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Bulletin: Individual Mandate Survives As A Tax, 5-4 Ruling Upholds ObamaCare

This article is more than 10 years old.
Chief Justice John Roberts Saves The ACA. Who knew?
Chief Justice John Roberts Saves The ACA. Who knew?

Read the full opinion here.

So, the mandate is constitutional. Chief Justice Roberts joins left of court. Medicaid provision is limited but not invalidated, says Scotusblog.

Bottom line: "The entire ACA is upheld, with the exception that the federal government's power to terminate states' Medicaid funds is narrowly read," says Scotusblog. "Roberts saved the ACA."

Amy Howe blogs: "The money quote from the section on the mandate: Our precedent demonstrates that Congress had the power to impose the exaction in Section 5000A under the taxing power, and that Section 5000A need not be read to do more than impose a tax. This is sufficient to sustain it."

Howe: "The Court holds that the mandate violates the Commerce Clause, but that doesn't matter b/c there are five votes for the mandate to be constitutional under the taxing power.

(Thank you Scotusblog!)

More from Kennedy's dissent, from Scotusblog: "In opening his statement in dissent, Kennedy says: "In our view, the entire Act before us is invalid in its entirety."

For a laugh between all this serious talk, check out tumblr's "When Scotus Upheld ObamaCare."

Amy Howe summarizes the ruling in plain English:

The Affordable Care Act, including its individual mandate that virtually all Americans buy health insurance, is constitutional. There were not five votes to uphold it on the ground that Congress could use its power to regulate commerce between the states to require everyone to buy health insurance. However, five Justices agreed that the penalty that someone must pay if he refuses to buy insurance is a kind of tax that Congress can impose using its taxing power. That is all that matters. Because the mandate survives, the Court did not need to decide what other parts of the statute were constitutional, except for a provision that required states to comply with new eligibility requirements for Medicaid or risk losing their funding. On that question, the Court held that the provision is constitutional as long as states would only lose new funds if they didn't comply with the new requirements, rather than all of their funding.

Howe notes Roberts' rationale for his opinion here:

From the beginning of the Chief's opinion: "We do not consider whether the Act embodies sound policies. That judgment is entrusted to the Nation's elected leaders. We ask only whether Congress has the power under the Constitution to enact the challenged provisions."

The New York Times front page declares: Victory For Obama

This program aired on June 28, 2012. The audio for this program is not available.

Rachel Zimmerman Reporter
Rachel Zimmerman previously reported on health and the intersection of health and business for WBUR. She is working on a memoir about rebuilding her family after her husband’s suicide. 



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