James Sasso, Politics

Party to the Suit: The Differing Adjudicatory Reactions to Medicare and the Affordable Care Act

Date: 
Wed, 03/23/2016
Location: 
438 Robertson Hall
Audience: 
Graduate Students


LEGS, or "Law-Engaged Graduate Students," meets during the academic year to discuss a work in progress by one of our Graduate Associates. Academic papers, dissertation proposals, and dissertation chapters have been presented at these meetings, to an audience of fellow graduate students.

Abstract:  Recent attacks on the Affordable Care Act by national and state Republican Party leaders hints at an evolving way that political parties are using litigation. Parties are looking to achieve policy victories in the courts where they have lost a battle in Congress or in the Presidency. By comparing constitutional and implementation challenges to Medicare with those against the ACA, this paper looks to develop a new theory of partisan litigation which can explain why, how, and when political parties find it both viable and attractive to become a litigant. Specifically, the G.O.P. and conservatives produced nearly no constitutional challenges to Medicare in the 1960s and 1970s, yet they have relentlessly attacked the more ‘conservative’ ACA. Indeed, the House of Representatives recently successfully sued President Obama in federal court to stymie the success of Obamacare. A theory of partisan litigation takes into account the interaction of ‘new conservatism’ and increasing polarization to create a political environment of adversarial polarization and antagonistic gridlock when drawing out the implications of parties using the courts to achieve their policy and electoral goals.

James N. Sasso is a joint PhD/JD student with Princeton's Department of Politics and Harvard Law School. Currently, he is completing his second year of the PhD program at Princeton where he concentrates on American political development, public law, and, more particularly, the evolution of partisan strategies as they relate to the usage of the U.S. Constitution and federal courts throughout American history. In the fall, James will leave Princeton and begin the JD portion of his ad hoc program in Cambridge. Prior to coming to Princeton, James spent two years as a Project Analyst at Mintz Levin, a law firm headquartered in Boston, MA.


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