PUBLISHED: 09:21 EST, 28 June 2012 | UPDATED: 10:20 EST, 28 June 2012
- Court decides that it is not legal to force Americans to buy insurance as part of the controversial individual mandate, but it is legal to penalize them if they do not have insurance so the ruling is seen as a victory for President Obama
- Ruling rejects the mandatory Medicaid expansion the law required
The Supreme Court handed President Obama a major victory after ruling the central portion of his healthcare reforms are constitutionally legal.
The news comes as a welcome victory for President Barack Obama who will undoubtedly celebrate the fact that the conservative-heavy Supreme Court ruled that there is a way in which the health care legislation is constitutional under a certain tax clause.
Chief Justice John Roberts wrote that while the controversial individual mandate portion of the Affordable Health Care Act- which requires all Americans to buy health insurance- can not be required under the inter-state commerce clause, it is legal for the Congress to issue a tax penalty if anyone does not have insurance.
That said, the Court rejected the mandatory Medicaid expansion, arguing that it is not legal to threaten to withhold other benefits if the states opted against certain other portions of the Affordable Health Care Act.
Taking to the streets: Protestors have lined the Mall during the days leading up to Thursday’s announcement
Immediate commentators and legal analysts are giving Chief Justice Roberts much of the credit for the passage of the landmark law.
BREAKING IT DOWN: THE DECISION
The decision means the huge overhaul, still only partly in effect, will proceed and pick up momentum over the next several years, affecting the way that countless Americans receive and pay for their personal medical care.
The ruling also hands Obama a campaign-season victory in rejecting arguments that Congress went too far in requiring most Americans to have health insurance or pay a penalty.
The justices rejected two of the administration’s three arguments in support of the insurance requirement. But the court said the mandate can be construed as a tax.
‘Because the Constitution permits such a tax, it is not our role to forbid it, or to pass upon its wisdom or fairness,’ Roberts said.
The court found problems with the law’s expansion of Medicaid, but even there said the expansion could proceed as long as the federal government does not threaten to withhold states’ entire Medicaid allotment if they don’t take part in the law’s extension.
—The Associated Press
Five of the more conservative justices said that it violates the commerce clause, but that is more or less irrelevant because Chief Justice Roberts determined that it is legal under a different tax avenue.
The legislation was controversial from the get-go, with 26 states challenging its constitutionality before it was picked up by the Supreme Court.
While political analysts are still digesting the comprehensive decision
Because the Affordable Healthcare Act is arguably Mr Obama’s most significant undertaking since taking office in January 2009, the decision will undoubtedly shape the path of the presidential campaign.
Mr Obama was obviously hoping for a win, and now that it was ruled in his favor, he is expected to make a speech very soon.
Minority leader Nancy Pelosi already spoke out on the decision, Tweeting: ‘Victory for the American people! Millions of American families and children will have certainty of health care benefits + affordable care.’
Democratic congressman Jerrold Nadler from New York released a statement about the ruling.
‘Today, in upholding the Affordable Care Act, the Supreme Court has shown that, even at a time when Washington seems to have reached a new level of dysfunction, there remains a respect for the rule of law, for precedent, and for the ability of Congress to legislate on matters that affect the American people,’ he said in a statement.
Watching as it happens: Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has been a stalwart supporter of the health care policy throughout the debate and she was clearly pleased when the news came in this Thursday morning
Happy: Minority leader Nancy Pelosi Tweeted about the Supreme Court decision shortly after it was announced
Celebrating: President Barack Obama is scheduled to speak in a few short hours and he will undoubtedly praise the court for approaching the issue in a relatively non-partisan way
Many early reports said that while he was ‘confident’ that the court would uphold the constitutionality of the legislation, sources with knowledge about the situation said that he was also fearing that the conservative-heavy court may strike down the individual mandate portion of the law.
The theory behind the mandate permits that by forcing all Americans to buy health insurance, it will lead to fewer emergency room visits by uninsured individuals which would keep hospital costs down.
TAKING TO TWITTER: REACTIONS
Sarah Palin, former Republican Vice Presidential nominee
Obama lied to the American people. Again. He said it wasn’t a tax. Obama lies; freedom dies.
Rick Santorum, former Republican presidential nominee
#SCOTUS outcome is major setback for freedom & biggest permanent tax increase in our nation’s history. Elections matter.
Michelle Bachmann, former Republican presidential nominee
I’m disappointed #SCOTUS thinks gov’t knows better than people. I won’t stop fighting #Obamacare until is full repeal. RT if you’re with me.
Erick Erickson, conservative author of RedState.com
Big loss for conservatives. Suddenly the left loves John Roberts.
Christine Quinn, speaker of the New York City council and likely mayoral candidate
The Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the #Affordable Care Act is great news for our City, State, and Nation. #SCOTUS
Conservatives argue that such a move is not only unconstitutional but also bad for business.
The fact that Chief Justice Roberts, one of the court’s conservative members, wrote the majority opinion that allowed the individual mandate to go into effect, it insures the Republican party will begin attacking the court in the coming
Taking the side of small business owners, who, if the law goes into effect, would have to help cover the costs of all of their workers’ insurance and would effectively raise operating costs to an extent that their profit margins would be threatened.
Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney has kept touting that line of argument, resting heavily on his business background and stressing the damage that he feels it would do to the country’s struggling economy.
In the days leading up to the announcement, Mr Romney spoke extensively about the Supreme Court ruling in his stump speeches at campaign events in Virginia, New Jersey, New York, and Virginia.
‘My guess is they’re not sleeping real well at the White House tonight,’ he said Wednesday night in Virginia.
The decision is clearly not what they were hoping for, but that does not mean that the Romney camp has little to smile about: one of his campaign managers told MSNBC that they had already raised over $100,000 in the hour following the Supreme Court announcement.
In spite of waiting for the decision to begin bombarding the airwaves with news about the ruling itself, Mr Romney’s camp released ads promising that if he wins the election, he will repeal the bill from behind the Resolute desk.
Supporting the cause: President Barack Obama made the Affordable Health Care Act a pivotal portion of his presidential legacy, so the decision will have a great impact on his re-election campaign
Controversy: Mitt Romney and the Republicans have argued that the health care legislation is bad for business and unconstitutional
The issue was initially problematic for Mr Romney during the primaries as he enacted a relatively similar scheme in Massachusetts when he was governor.
After taking a beating for that decision from his more conservative competitors, Mr Romney was able to collect enough support from elsewhere in the party to move past that line of attack and focus again on the economy.
Such a move is expected in light of today’s ruling as well.
One Republican strategist told Politico’s Mike Allen that if health care was struck down by the Court, the best move for the GOP would be to drive the point home that Mr Obama spent much of his early time in office on a piece of legislation that is no longer valid rather than focusing on the economy and dismal unemployment rates at the time.
THE SUPREME COURT JUSTICES: WHO ARE THE DECISION MAKERS?
The decision makers: Back row (L-R) Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen Breyer, Samuel Alito, Elena Kagan. Front row: Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia, Chief Justice John Roberts, Anthony Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Back Row, left to right:
Appointed by: President Barack Obama in 2009
Though legal experts generally say that it takes five years on the court to produce a true measure of a justice’s leanings, Ms Sotomayor has largely followed the rulings of her liberal counterparts. By 2010, she had had followed Justices Ginsberg and Breyer’s decision 90 per cent of the time.
Appointed by: President Bill Clinton in 1994
Samuel Anthony Alito
Appointed by: President George W. Bush in 2006
Appointed by: President Barack Obama in 2010
The same reservation exists about Justice Kagan’s lack of time on the court, but in her brief tenure she has voted with the liberal block.
Front Row, left to right:
Appointed by: President George H.W. Bush in 1991
Leanings: Conservative. He and Justice Scalia vote the same way 92 per cent of the time during their shared time on the bench.
Appointed by: President Ronald Reagan in 1986
John Roberts, Chief Justice
Appointed: By President George W. Bush in 2005
In today’s shocking ruling, Chief Justice Roberts wrote the majority opinion and is being largely credited with the final verdict as he found the taxing power to allow the individual mandate to be enacted.
Appointed by: President Reagan in 1988
Leanings: Conservative, but he often votes with the liberal wing, and is seen by many as the swing vote. Of the 16 cases that ended in a 5-4 decision, Justice Kennedy was the deciding vote on 14 of those cases.
In a surprising turn of events, Justice Kennedy was not seen as the deciding vote in this case, however, and the credit is largely going to Chief Justice John Roberts.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Appointed by: President Bill Clinton in 1993
She was the second woman appointed to the court following Sandra Day O’Connor. She is now the oldest of the current justices, having turned 79 years old in March.