U.Va. Tip Sheet: Law Professors Available to Speak About Health Care Reform, Potential Supreme Court Showdown

October 7, 2011 — The following University of Virginia School of Law professors are available to speak about health care reform and possible action from the U.S. Supreme Court on the issue.

Richard Bonnie

Bonnie is one of the country's foremost experts on health law policy and has written or commented extensively on health care reform in the media. He is a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies and chairs Virginia's Commission on Mental Health Law Reform, which has spearheaded major reforms in the wake of the Virginia Tech shooting. Among many other positions, he has been associate director of the National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse (1971-73); secretary of the first National Advisory Council on Drug Abuse (1975-80); chair of Virginia's State Human Rights Committee responsible for protecting rights of persons with mental disabilities (1979-85); and chief adviser for the ABA Criminal Justice Mental Health Standards Project (1981-88).
"Most constitutional experts do not expect [a potential Supreme Court ruling] to be a close case," Bonnie wrote in a Richmond Times-Dispatch op-ed. "Congress has the power to regulate individual decisions whether or not to carry health insurance because these decisions, when aggregated, have a significant economic effect on the interstate insurance market and failing to include them would make it less likely that Congress' legitimate regulatory goals will be achieved. Moreover, requiring an individual to buy insurance does not violate any individual right protected by the Constitution."

In the media:

•  "Why 'Obamacare' Will Survive in the Supreme Court" (The Richmond Times-Dispatch, 03/06/2011)

•  "Health Care Law Ruling Ignores Settled Law"

•  "Health Law Ruling Only the Beginning" (Politico, 12/14/2010)

•  "Court Backs Treatment for Loughner" (Wall Street Journal, 7/26/2011)

Thomas Hafemeister

Hafemeister is an associate professor at the School of Law and an associate professor of medical education in the School of Medicine. He teaches courses in medical malpractice and health care quality, bioethics and the law, mental health law, and psychiatry and criminal law, and has published articles on health, public health and mental health care policy, as well as range of other issues, including elder abuse, child abuse, domestic violence, underage drinking, the psychology of jury selection and juror stress, and the criminal justice system. He has written extensively about alternative approaches to medical malpractice in cases of medical error and the effects of pharmaceutical and medical product advertising and marketing on doctor-patient relationships.

Hafemeister recently wrote in the Southern Methodist University Law Review: "Currently, there are a series of legal challenges to the [Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act] winding their way through the courts, driven primarily by elected Republican officials from various states, claiming, among other things, that the enactment of the PPACA by the Democratic majority exceeded the constitutional authority of the federal government. Ironically, the positions of the two political parties on this constitutional authority could be diametrically reversed should the Republicans ultimately regain power in both houses and succeed in passing a federal medical malpractice reform package, with Democratic officials then asserting that such an enactment exceeds the constitutional power of Congress."

In the media:

•  "Loughner Likely to Stand Trial" (USA Today, 6/14/2011)

•  "Stealing from Grandma and Grandpa" FoxBusiness.com , 6/13/2011)

•   "Deal Would Raise Cap on Malpractice Suits in Va." (Virginian-Pilot, 1/11/2011)

•  "Amid Financial Abuse, a Blind Spot for Family" (New York Times, 5/19/2009)

Margaret Foster Riley

Riley teaches health law at the School of Law and in the Department of Public Health Sciences at U.Va.'s School of Medicine. She teaches a seminar that focuses on the health care reform debate and has written and presented extensively about biomedical research, genetics, reproductive technologies, stem cell research, animal biotechnology, health disparities and chronic disease. She serves as chair of U.Va.'s Embryonic Stem Cell Research Oversight Committee and as legal adviser to the Health Sciences Institutional Review Board, which is responsible for reviewing all human-subject research at U.Va. involving medically invasive procedures.

"The Supreme Court's ruling on the individual mandate case may have implications for the federal government's power under the commerce clause that go far beyond health reform," Riley said. "My hunch is that the court will be very sensitive to that fact. But even if the court were to rule that the individual mandate were unconstitutional, I don't believe that it would make the Affordable Care Act legally unsustainable. The individual mandate is designed to address the problem of adverse selection – the fact that purchasers of insurance would be skewed toward people with health problems who are more expensive to insure. Although there are alternative solutions to that problem, they may be much less fair and have drastic financial implications for unlucky individuals. In any event, the political implications of a Supreme Court ruling – in either direction – may, at least in the short run, dwarf the legal implications."

In the media:

• "135,000 Uninsured Americans Will Die Before Health Reform Takes Effect, Analysis Finds" (The Raw Story, 12/15/2009)

"Reinventing Life"  (U.Va. Magazine, 3/08/2010)

"U.Va. Researchers Happy About Funding for Stem Cell Research (WCAV, 3/9/2009)

• "UVA Law Class Exploring Animal Law Issues" (WVIR-NBC-29, 11/09/2009)

"UVA Seminar Focuses on Animal Law"  (Charlottesville Daily Progress, 11/06/2009)

• Frederick Schauer

Schauer is one of the nation's leading experts in constitutional law and theory. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, has held a Guggenheim Fellowship, has been vice president of the American Society for Political and Legal Philosophy and chair of the Committee on Philosophy and Law of the American Philosophical Association, and was a founding co-editor of the journal Legal Theory. Schauer is a David and Mary Harrison Distinguished Professor of Law at U.Va. Previously he served for 18 years as Frank Stanton Professor of the First Amendment at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, where he has served as academic dean and acting dean, and before that was a professor of law at the University of Michigan.

"Twenty years ago, I would have said that the commerce clause challenge was either preposterous or frivolous," he told IFAwebnews.com. "Now, I think it is a very, very, very long shot.

"To say this [health reform] bill and the entire health care industry doesn't have significant interstate economic effect is a much, much, much more tenuous argument," Schauer said. "So with that, I would predict, with pretty strong odds, that the case is a loser."

In the media:

"Law Professor: Health Reform Lawsuits in Va., Other States 'a Loser'" (Insurance & Financial Advisor, 5/18/2010)

"Virginia Attorney General to Sue Over Health Care" (The Washington Examiner, 3/23/2010)

•  "Can Amazon Be Prosecuted for Hosting WikiLeaks?"  (AOL News, 12/02/2010)

•  "WikiLeaks Rolled Dice to Raise Its Profile"  (Wall Street Journal, 7/26/2010)

"U.S. Court Is Now Guiding Fewer Nations" (The New York Times, 9/17/2008)

Media Contact

Brian McNeill

School of Law