Supreme Court Upholds Obamacare

The Supreme Court this morning announced that it has upheld Obamacare’s individual mandate, which – because it also let stand, with restrictions, the Medicaid expansion provision of the bill – means that basically the entire legislation is deemed constitutional.

Chief Justice John Roberts joined the left wing of the Court in a 5-4 decision that validated the legislation. Roberts led the writing of the opinion.

It appears in focusing on Justice Anthony Kennedy, everyone had the wrong guy. Kennedy sided with the conservatives and said today that the entire law should be held unconstitutional.

Apparently, what has happened is that the Court decided that what is described in the legislation as a penalty – or a fee – is actually a tax, and Congress has an unchallenged power to tax. From the decision:

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.

The “tax” is assessed if individuals don’t purchase health insurance, which is the enforcement mechanism of the mandate.

The mandate was not challenged separately from the rest of the law – except for the Medicaid provision – so the rest of the law automatically stands.

The premise of the arguments against Obamacare was that Congress in passing it was violating the Constitution by creating a right it doesn’t have – the right to compel commerce by forcing you to buy something.

This might be true if the penalty for not engaging in commerce was a fee. But if it’s considered a tax, then Congress can be deemed – as it was today by the Court – merely to be exercising its Constitutional right to tax you.

There was not a majority on the Court to hold Obamacare Constitutional if the penalty was considered a fee instead of a tax.

The Medicaid expansion was allowed, but the Court limited the penalties that could be assessed on states that decide not to comply with it.

H/T to SCOTUSblog for its coverage of the announcement.

Keith Koffler


Award winning journalist Keith Koffler has 16 years of experience covering Washington. As a reporter for CongressDaily, National Journal magazine, and Roll Call, Keith wrote primarily from the White House, covering three presidents and learning as few have the intricacies of the West Wing and the behavior and motivations of its occupants. While mainly stationed at the White House, he also extensively covered Congress and Washington’s lobbyists. Keith has also written for a variety of other publications, including Politico, The Daily Caller, and The London Observer. He currently writes regular opinion columns for Politico. He blogs at

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  • Clement_W

    I believe that the 5-4 decision on ObamaCare with Chief Justice joining and writing the opinion is probably the wake up call to all Americans to look at ourselves and see how easy it is to be suckered into accepting sugar-coated lies. The President insisted that the cost of the ObamaCare was NOT a Tax over and over when in fact it was and the SCOTUS has confirmed it.  

    Chief Justice Roberts has just confirmed that President Obama, Nancy Pelosi and almost all the Democrats in Congress are not merely hypocrites but are really nothing but inveterate liars. What Chief Justice Roberts has really done is to place the responsibility squarely on our shoulders and told us is that we have to be responsible for who and what we choose our Government to be.

    In addition, the use of the Commerce Clause has been restrained.

    One thing for sure, the entire Political scene has become starkly clear. Even the 8% of Center-Left Democrats and Independents will be looking closely at what this ‘Victory’ for Obama will mean to their own taxes and disposable income. The ‘Defender’ of the Middle Class is now clearly exposed as the the ‘Exterminator’!

    I suspect that the Democrats’ victory will be proven ‘Pyrrhic’ come November 6, 2012. The TEA Party formed just for this purpose will be energized even more than in 2010. A ‘Shellacking’, this time around, an even bigger one than in 2010 has become more likely.
    For the defenders of First Amendment Freedom of Religion Rights, your increased taxes will finance the loss of them.

  • Momof11

    So if the administration has been insisting it is not a tax, does this mean we now have the court levying taxes as well as legislating?

  • cj

    Call it what it is — ROBAMACARE.

  • Zoro

    I prayed and my prayers were answered. Thumbs up for the Supreme Court.

  • A_True_Blue

    STEPHANOPOULOS:  That may be, but it’s still a tax increase.
    OBAMA:  No.  That’s not true, George.  … to get health insurance is absolutely not a tax increase. 
    STEPHANOPOULOS:  But you reject that it’s a tax increase?
    OBAMA:  I absolutely reject that notion.

  • markeyjoe

    The government (State or Federal) has no business mandating private employers, Catholic or otherwise, to provide what has been up to now an employee benefit. So now it coercively forces formal cooperation in evil requiring us to pay for cancer causing chemicals, to be used for perfectly healthy women, to avoid a perfectly healthy function (fertility), to a healthy act (sex), to avoid a healthy reaction (pregnancy), which can be avoided by perfectly healthy means (abstinence)! What is so healthy about that? Now obama has decided that the completely healthy woman (regardless of income) who simply does not want to get the “disease” of pregnancy should not be burdened with paying a very small copay. In the meantime, heart disease and cancer are the #1 and #2 killers of American women and those millions of women who suffer these diseases are on their own when it comes to copays and deductibles. yet free BC for everyone regardless of income seems to be so important that we have to give up our rights guaranteed (not given) under the 223 year old Constitution. obama has an agenda, and that is to bully Catholics because he and sebelius hate the truths that Mother Church proposes to society to free us from our sinful state.

  • Sarah_salome

    Sebelius believes that birth control is good health care for women, so
    much so she is willing to trample on our Catholic rights guaranteed by
    the 1st amendment but we all know that the birth control pill (as used
    for contraception) is UNhealthy for women since it suppresses the
    natural function of fertility, which is not a disease, I repeat
    fertility is not a disease, it is natural to human reproductive health.
    Pregnancy (the natural healthy response to sexual relations) is not a
    disease either and ought NOT to be treated as one. On the other hand,
    the pill has many bad side effects including blood clots, possible
    stroke and increases the risk of breast, cervix, and liver cancer. The
    same chemicals were prescribed in much smaller doses for women
    experiencing complications from menopause, now doctors are recommended
    NOT to prescribe them because of the connection to breast cancer, yet we
    accept the use at much higher levels to teens and young adults. why?
    The pill is also recognized by the drug manufacturers as an
    abortifacient. The IUD is abortiafacient, as well ELLA and RU486 causing
    the destruction of living HEALTHY human beings. I always understood
    “health-care” as being primarily the treatment and cure of diseases and
    injuries, yet the diabetic, the epileptic, the cancer patient or heart
    disease sufferer still has to pay the co-pays and deductibles, the man
    with a broken arm cannot rely on a gov’t mandate for absolutely free
    care. But obama’a idea of “needed health care” is primarily birth control?
    BC pills, sterilization, morning after pills and abortion is
    intrinsically evil. As St. Augustine once said “right is right if nobody
    is right, wro