OBAMACARE SUBSTANTIALLY UPHELD BY 5-4 VOTE – Chief Justice Roberts Joins Majority – See full ruling

OBAMACARE SUBSTANTIALLY UPHELD BY 5-4 VOTE – Chief Justice Roberts Joins Majority
June 28, 2012
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court upheld the individual insurance requirement at the heart of President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul.
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.
Chief Justice John Roberts announced the court’s judgment that allows the law to go forward with its aim of covering more than 30 million uninsured Americans.
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 court’s four liberal justices, Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, joined Roberts in the outcome.
Justices Samuel Alito, Anthony Kennedy, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas dissented.
“The act before us here exceeds federal power both in mandating the purchase of health insurance and in denying non-consenting states all Medicaid funding,” the dissenters said in a joint statement.
The court devoted more than six hours to arguments about these issues over three days in late March. The justices met March 30 to take a vote on the case and sort out who would take the lead in writing the opinions.
The 26 states and the small business group challenging the law seemed to have the better of the courtroom arguments in March. Conservative justices peppered Solicitor General Donald Verrilli Jr. with hostile questions about both the insurance requirement and the Medicaid expansion.
The case began almost as soon as Mr. Obama signed the law on March 23, 2010. Even before the day was out, Florida and 12 states filed the lawsuit that ended up at the Supreme Court. Another 13 states later joined in later.
The heart of the challenge was the claim that Congress could not force people to buy a product – health insurance.
The administration advanced several arguments in defense of Congress’ authority to require health insurance, including that it falls under the power to regulate interstate commerce.
The government also argued that the insurance requirement was necessary to make effective two other undoubtedly constitutional provisions: the requirements that insurers accept people regardless of existing health problems and limit what they charge older, sicker people.
The administration also said that even if the court rejected the first two arguments, the insurance requirement and penalty are constitutional as an exercise of Congress’ power to enact taxes. The penalty assessed for not buying insurance functions like a tax, the government said.

The text of the Supreme Court’s full opinion upholding the health-care law’s individual mandate is now available.

Read full text of 183 page Supreme Court ruling at: http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/11pdf/11-393c3a2.pdf

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