Roberts’ vote sways Supreme Court to uphold Obama’s health care overhaul

  • ** FILE ** President Barack Obama speaks in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, June 28, 2012, after the Supreme Court ruled on his health care legislation. (AP Photo/Luke Sharrett/Pool)** FILE ** President Barack Obama speaks in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, June 28, 2012, after the Supreme Court ruled on his health care legislation. (AP Photo/Luke Sharrett/Pool)
  • President Barack Obama speaks in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, June 28, 2012, after the Supreme Court ruled on his health care legislation. (AP Photo/Luke Sharrett/Pool)President Barack Obama speaks in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, June 28, 2012, after the Supreme Court ruled on his health care legislation. (AP Photo/Luke Sharrett/Pool)
  • Supporters of President Obama's health care law celebrate outside the Supreme Court in Washington on June 28, 2012, after the court's ruling was announced. (Associated Press)Supporters of President Obama's health care law celebrate outside the Supreme Court in Washington on June 28, 2012, after the court's ruling was announced. (Associated Press)
  • A journalist runs a copy of the Supreme Court decision on health care to her colleagues, Thursday, June 28, 2012, in Washington.  (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)A journalist runs a copy of the Supreme Court decision on health care to her colleagues, Thursday, June 28, 2012, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
  • Carol Anderson of Williamsburg, Va., holds a cross outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Thursday, June 28, 2012, after the court's ruling on health care.  (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)Carol Anderson of Williamsburg, Va., holds a cross outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Thursday, June 28, 2012, after the court's ruling on health care. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
  • House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of Calif. relays the breaking news to her staff that the Supreme Court had just upheld the Affordable Care Act, Thursday, June 28, 2012, on Capitol Hill in Washington. Pelosi, the former speaker of the House, was instrumental in helping to pass health care reform in Congress and was at President Obama's side when he signed it into law. At right, Pelosi gives credit to Wendell Primus, a senior policy adviser. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of Calif. relays the breaking news to her staff that the Supreme Court had just upheld the Affordable Care Act, Thursday, June 28, 2012, on Capitol Hill in Washington. Pelosi, the former speaker of the House, was instrumental in helping to pass health care reform in Congress and was at President Obama's side when he signed it into law. At right, Pelosi gives credit to Wendell Primus, a senior policy adviser. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
  • Donny Kirsch of Washington gets a hug as he celebrates the Supreme Court decision on health care, Thursday, June 28, 2012, in Washington.  (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)Donny Kirsch of Washington gets a hug as he celebrates the Supreme Court decision on health care, Thursday, June 28, 2012, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
  • President Barack Obama walks back to the Blue Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, June 28, 2012, after the Supreme Court ruled on his health care legislation. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais/pool)President Barack Obama walks back to the Blue Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, June 28, 2012, after the Supreme Court ruled on his health care legislation. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais/pool)
  • Demonstrators stand outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Thursday, June 28, 2012, before the court's ruling on health care.  (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)Demonstrators stand outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Thursday, June 28, 2012, before the court's ruling on health care. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
  • With the Capitol in the background, Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney speaks about the Supreme Court's health care ruling, Thursday, June 28, 2012, in Washington. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)With the Capitol in the background, Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney speaks about the Supreme Court's health care ruling, Thursday, June 28, 2012, in Washington. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
  • The Supreme Court stands in the background as people gather outside Thursday, June 28, 2012, in Washington. Saving its biggest case for last, the Supreme Court is expected to announce its verdict Thursday on President Barack Obama's health care law. (AP Photo/David Goldman)The Supreme Court stands in the background as people gather outside Thursday, June 28, 2012, in Washington. Saving its biggest case for last, the Supreme Court is expected to announce its verdict Thursday on President Barack Obama's health care law. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
  • With the Capitol in the background, Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney pauses while speaking about the Supreme Court's health care ruling, Thursday, June 28, 2012, in Washington. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)With the Capitol in the background, Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney pauses while speaking about the Supreme Court's health care ruling, Thursday, June 28, 2012, in Washington. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
  • FILE - This Oct. 8, 2010 file photo shows the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court at the Supreme Court in Washington. Seated from left are Associate Justices Clarence Thomas, and Antonin Scalia, Chief Justice John Roberts, Associate Justices Anthony M. Kennedy and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Standing, from left are Associate Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen Breyer, Samuel Alito Jr., and Elena Kagan.  The Supreme Court on Thursday, June 28, 2012, upheld the individual insurance requirement at the heart of President Barack Obama's historic health care overhaul. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)FILE - This Oct. 8, 2010 file photo shows the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court at the Supreme Court in Washington. Seated from left are Associate Justices Clarence Thomas, and Antonin Scalia, Chief Justice John Roberts, Associate Justices Anthony M. Kennedy and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Standing, from left are Associate Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen Breyer, Samuel Alito Jr., and Elena Kagan. The Supreme Court on Thursday, June 28, 2012, upheld the individual insurance requirement at the heart of President Barack Obama's historic health care overhaul. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)
  • With the Capitol in the background, Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney speaks about the Supreme Court's health care ruling, Thursday, June 28, 2012, in Washington. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)With the Capitol in the background, Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney speaks about the Supreme Court's health care ruling, Thursday, June 28, 2012, in Washington. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
  • ** FILE ** The White House is seen in Washington, Thursday, June 28, 2012, after the Supreme Court ruled on President Barack Obama's health care legislation. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)** FILE ** The White House is seen in Washington, Thursday, June 28, 2012, after the Supreme Court ruled on President Barack Obama's health care legislation. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
  • Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn, speaks outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Thursday, June 28, 2012, after the court's ruling on President Barack Obama's health care law was announced. AP Photo/David Goldman)Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn, speaks outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Thursday, June 28, 2012, after the court's ruling on President Barack Obama's health care law was announced. AP Photo/David Goldman)
  • House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of Calif., smiles as she watches the breaking news from the Supreme Court which upheld the Affordable Care Act, Thursday, June 28, 2012 on Capitol Hill in Washington. Pelosi, the former speaker of the House, was instrumental in helping to pass health care reform in Congress and was at President Obama's side when he signed it into law.  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of Calif., smiles as she watches the breaking news from the Supreme Court which upheld the Affordable Care Act, Thursday, June 28, 2012 on Capitol Hill in Washington. Pelosi, the former speaker of the House, was instrumental in helping to pass health care reform in Congress and was at President Obama's side when he signed it into law. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
  • A copy of a prepared speech is seen as Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn, not pictured, speaks outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Thursday, June 28, 2012, after the court's ruling on President Barack Obama's health care law was announced. AP Photo/David Goldman)A copy of a prepared speech is seen as Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn, not pictured, speaks outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Thursday, June 28, 2012, after the court's ruling on President Barack Obama's health care law was announced. AP Photo/David Goldman)
  • Russell Mokhiber, of Berkeley Springs, W.Va., center, argues in favor of a form of Medicare for all, as he waits outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Thursday, June 28, 2012, for a landmark decision on health care.  Mokhiber is part of a group that brought belly dancers to the court as they way for the decision.  (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)Russell Mokhiber, of Berkeley Springs, W.Va., center, argues in favor of a form of Medicare for all, as he waits outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Thursday, June 28, 2012, for a landmark decision on health care. Mokhiber is part of a group that brought belly dancers to the court as they way for the decision. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
  • House Speaker John A. Boehner (center), Ohio Republican, walks toward the House chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington on Thursday, June 28, 2012, after the Supreme Court's ruling on President Obama's health care law. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)House Speaker John A. Boehner (center), Ohio Republican, walks toward the House chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington on Thursday, June 28, 2012, after the Supreme Court's ruling on President Obama's health care law. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
  • William Temple, of Brunswick, Ga., waits outside the Supreme Court a  landmark decision on health care on Thursday, June 28, 2012 in Washington.  (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)William Temple, of Brunswick, Ga., waits outside the Supreme Court a landmark decision on health care on Thursday, June 28, 2012 in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
  • Members of the media run out of the Supreme Court in Washington, Thursday, June 28, 2012, after the court's ruling on President Barack Obama's health care law was announced. AP Photo/David Goldman)Members of the media run out of the Supreme Court in Washington, Thursday, June 28, 2012, after the court's ruling on President Barack Obama's health care law was announced. AP Photo/David Goldman)
  • Tea Party supporter William Temple of Brunswick, Ga., protests against President Barack Obama's health care law outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Thursday, June 28, 2012. Saving its biggest case for last, the Supreme Court is expected to announce ruling on President Barack Obama's health care law. (AP Photo/David Goldman)Tea Party supporter William Temple of Brunswick, Ga., protests against President Barack Obama's health care law outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Thursday, June 28, 2012. Saving its biggest case for last, the Supreme Court is expected to announce ruling on President Barack Obama's health care law. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
  • Claire McAndrew of Washington, left, and Donny Kirsch of Washington, celebrate outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Thursday, June 28, 2012, after the courts's ruling on health care.  (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)Claire McAndrew of Washington, left, and Donny Kirsch of Washington, celebrate outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Thursday, June 28, 2012, after the courts's ruling on health care. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
  • Protestors shadows are cast outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Thursday, June 28, 2012, in Washington, as the Supreme Court is expected to announce its verdict on President Barack Obama's health care law. (AP Photo/David Goldman)Protestors shadows are cast outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Thursday, June 28, 2012, in Washington, as the Supreme Court is expected to announce its verdict on President Barack Obama's health care law. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
  • Supporters of President Barack Obama's health care law celebrate outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Thursday, June 28, 2012, after the court's ruling. AP Photo/David Goldman)Supporters of President Barack Obama's health care law celebrate outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Thursday, June 28, 2012, after the court's ruling. AP Photo/David Goldman)
  • Rachel Del Guidici, 18, of Shreve, Ohio, and others, demonstrate against President Barack Obama's health care law outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Thursday, June 28, 2012. Saving its biggest case for last, the Supreme Court is expected to announce its ruling on President Barack Obama's health care law. (AP Photo/David Goldman)Rachel Del Guidici, 18, of Shreve, Ohio, and others, demonstrate against President Barack Obama's health care law outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Thursday, June 28, 2012. Saving its biggest case for last, the Supreme Court is expected to announce its ruling on President Barack Obama's health care law. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
  • People wait on line for passes to enter  the Supreme Court in Washington, Thursday, June 28, 2012. Saving its biggest case for last, the Supreme Court is expected to announce its ruling on President Barack Obama's health care law. (AP Photo/David Goldman)People wait on line for passes to enter the Supreme Court in Washington, Thursday, June 28, 2012. Saving its biggest case for last, the Supreme Court is expected to announce its ruling on President Barack Obama's health care law. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
  • The shadow of an officer is cast as he stands guard on the steps of the Supreme Court in Washington, Thursday, June 28, 2012. Saving its biggest case for last, the Supreme Court is expected to rule on President Barack Obama's health care law. (AP Photo/David Goldman)The shadow of an officer is cast as he stands guard on the steps of the Supreme Court in Washington, Thursday, June 28, 2012. Saving its biggest case for last, the Supreme Court is expected to rule on President Barack Obama's health care law. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
  • Belly dancers Angela Petry, left, and Jennifer Carpenter-Peak, both of Washington, dance outside the Supreme Court in Washington,Thursday, June 28, 2012, in Washington, as part of a demonstration as the Supreme Court is expected to rule on President Barack Obama's health care law. (AP Photo/David Goldman)Belly dancers Angela Petry, left, and Jennifer Carpenter-Peak, both of Washington, dance outside the Supreme Court in Washington,Thursday, June 28, 2012, in Washington, as part of a demonstration as the Supreme Court is expected to rule on President Barack Obama's health care law. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
  • Joy Wilson of Washington, waits in line hoping for a pass to enter  the Supreme Court in Washington, Thursday, June 28, 2012. Saving its biggest case for last, the Supreme Court is expected to announce its verdict Thursday on President Barack Obama's health care law. (AP Photo/David Goldman)Joy Wilson of Washington, waits in line hoping for a pass to enter the Supreme Court in Washington, Thursday, June 28, 2012. Saving its biggest case for last, the Supreme Court is expected to announce its verdict Thursday on President Barack Obama's health care law. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
  • Demonstrators pray outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Thursday, June 28, 2012, before a landmark decision on health care.  (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)Demonstrators pray outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Thursday, June 28, 2012, before a landmark decision on health care. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
  • People who waited in line overnight to hear the Supreme Court on a landmark case on health care hold their belongings as they make their way into the court in Washington, Thursday, June 28, 2012.  (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)People who waited in line overnight to hear the Supreme Court on a landmark case on health care hold their belongings as they make their way into the court in Washington, Thursday, June 28, 2012. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
  • A group of belly dancers in favor of Medicare for all perform outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Thursday, June 28, 2012, before a landmark decision on health care.  (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)A group of belly dancers in favor of Medicare for all perform outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Thursday, June 28, 2012, before a landmark decision on health care. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
  • Carol Anderson, of Williamsburg, Va., holds a cross while waiting in line outside the Supreme Court to hear a landmark decision on health care on Thursday, June 28, 2012 in Washington.  (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)Carol Anderson, of Williamsburg, Va., holds a cross while waiting in line outside the Supreme Court to hear a landmark decision on health care on Thursday, June 28, 2012 in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
  • Ivana Hughes, of Augusta, Ga., waits in line outside the Supreme Court to hear a landmark decision on health care on Thursday, June 28, 2012 in Washington.  (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)Ivana Hughes, of Augusta, Ga., waits in line outside the Supreme Court to hear a landmark decision on health care on Thursday, June 28, 2012 in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
  • Journalists wait outside the Supreme Court for a landmark decision on health care on Thursday, June 28, 2012 in Washington.  (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)Journalists wait outside the Supreme Court for a landmark decision on health care on Thursday, June 28, 2012 in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the heart of President Obama’s health care law, ruling that the federal government can compel Americans to buy health insurance and striking a new balance for the scope of federal authority in the 21st century.

The complex 5-4 decision is a major legal boost to Mr. Obama and settles more than two years of court battles, though it only inflamed the political fight over the largest expansion in 40 years of the country’s social safety-net programs.

The ruling lets Mr. Obama continue to push the law toward full implementation in 2014, even as Republicans said they will redouble their efforts to repeal it in Congress and to take the issue to voters in November’s elections.

At its root, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.’s controlling opinion attempted a delicate constitutional balancing act: He said the Commerce and the Necessary and Proper clauses cannot be bent to compel Americans to buy insurance but is allowed under Congress‘ tax and spending powers, which are broader, but are subject to the checks of the political system.

“The Affordable Care Act’s requirement that certain individuals pay a financial penalty for not obtaining health insurance may reasonably be characterized 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,” he wrote.

The court’s four Democrat-appointed justices all sided with the chief justice’s ruling, but wrote separately to say they would have allowed the individual mandate under the Commerce Clause, too.

Four justices dissented, saying in an opinion written by Justice Antonin Scalia that the court has granted nearly unlimited authority to Congress to control Americans’ lives.

“Whatever may be the conceptual limits upon the Commerce Clause and upon the power to tax and spend, they cannot be such as will enable the Federal Government to regulate all private conduct and to compel the states to function as administrators of federal programs,” Justice Scalia wrote.

They said they would have struck down not only the individual mandate, but the rest of the law as well, arguing that the other provisions could not have stood without the compulsion of forcing Americans to buy insurance.

The justices also upheld the law’s massive expansion of Medicaid, the federal-state partnership program that provides health care to the poor. But in a 7-2 split, the justices said states that don’t want to expand their Medicaid rolls can’t be forced to forfeit all their existing Medicaid money.

Tax fight

The political fight ramped up throughout the day, as Republicans pounced on the court’s pronouncement that the penalty for not purchasing health coverage amounts to a tax, even though Mr. Obama repeatedly denied that while trying to muster political support for the law.

“The Supreme Court has spoken. This law is a tax. The bill was sold to the American people on a deception,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, adding that his party will continue pushing to ax the law.

Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, also vowed to sign a repeal if he is elected in November.

House Majority Leader Eric I. Cantor, Virginia Republican, said the House will vote to repeal the health care law next month, delivering on GOP promises to try to repeal the rest of the law even if the court upheld it.

Story Continues →

View Entire Story

© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Comments
blog comments powered by Disqus
TWT Video Picks