“Chief Justice Roberts’ vote saved the ACA.” – SCOTUSBLOG
“I do think the court will surprise a lot of people when it probably upholds the Affordable Care Act in an opinion written by another former student of mine, Chief Justice Roberts this Thursday… You can be deeply conservative and still believe that the Affordable Care Act is completely consistent with the United States Constitution.” – Lawrence Tribe [on MSNBC days prior to decision]
CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS, writing for the majority for the Supreme Court, has upheld the Affordability Care Act through, not through the Commerce Clause, but through the act of taxing. In other words, if you aren’t in commerce, already having health insurance, “you can’t be dragged in,” as Pete Williams analyzed. So, in 2014, how many people will voluntarily choose to buy health care, because it’s unlikely people will be sought out and taxed because they don’t have it?
However, the mandate being upheld under the taxing power means there will be power under the penalty.
Lyle [of SCOTUSBLOG]: The rejection of the Commerce Clause and Nec. and Proper Clause should be understood as a major blow to Congress’s authority to pass social welfare laws. Using the tax code — especially in the current political environment — to promote social welfare is going to be a very chancy proposition. [..] Lyle: Interesting, at least to scholars, that while the mandate and its attached penalty are a tax for purposes of its constitutionality, but not for the Anti-Injunction Act. If it were a tax for AIA purposes, this case would not have been decided re the mandate.
A breathless Pete Williams of NBC News delivered the news, later saying it is a “plurality opinion.” On Medicaid, the Court rejects its mandatory expansion, according to Williams and a SCOTUSBLOG expert. That is, the federal government can give the money to the state, but they don’t have to utilize it and if they don’t HHS can’t pull the money.
The main dissent was predictably written by Justice Scalia, but the report is that it’s “cordial.”
The incentives in the law, also known as the punishments, have evidently been taken out of ACA. So, how will this work? That’s the biggest question of all.
Politically speaking, Chief Justice Roberts has done a very important thing today for the Supreme Court. After Bush v. Gore, then Citizens United, the Supreme Court’s very credibility was on the line. Roberts being a Republican, who clearly would have struck down Obamacare if he legally believed it should be, has come down on the side of righting the trajectory of the legacy of the Supreme Court, which under Justice Rehnquist was leveled to the dirt.
Most importantly, Chief Justice John Roberts has delivered legitimacy to the Affordability Care Act.
Pres. Obama now has a place in history on an issue where other presidents over fifty years have failed. It is another social construct lift that rivals F.D.R. and Lyndon Johnson’s accomplishments, regardless of the many faults of Obamacare, of which the list is long.
First Lady Michelle Obama has always contended Barack Obama was meant to do big things. For these two people, the first African American presidency, living in the White House, which was built by slaves, it’s simply got to be the moment of their lives and one in which Mrs. Obama always believed Barack Obama was destined to deliver.
Salvaging the idea that Congress did have the power to try to expand health care to virtually all Americans, the Supreme Court on Monday upheld the constitutionality of the crucial – and most controversial — feature of the Affordable Care Act. By a vote of 5-4, however, the Court did not sustain it as a command for Americans to buy insurance, but as a tax if they don’t. That is the way Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., was willing to vote for it, and his view prevailed. The other Justices split 4-4, with four wanting to uphold it as a mandate, and four opposed to it in any form. – Lyle Deniston of SCOTUSBLOG
Roberts caricature via Shutterstock