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Supreme Court Upholds Health Care Law

Filed by KOSU News in US News.
June 28, 2012

The Supreme Court ruled today that the 2010 Affordable Care Act is constitutional — giving the Obama administration a big election year win over conservative critics who argue that the health care overhaul is a step on the way toward socialized medicine.

Republican leaders immediately vowed to renew their efforts to repeal the controversial act.

In a 5-4 decision that was unusual because conservative Chief Justice John Roberts joined the court’s four liberals and became the deciding vote, the justices ruled that the so-called individual mandate is a tax that Congress can impose on Americans. That undercut the challenge to that provision’s constitutionality for allegedly violating the Commerce Clause.

From there, upholding the mandate meant that the rest of the act was judged constitutional as well.

We’ve been live blogging as the news develops. Be sure to hit your “refresh” button to see our latest updates.

Update at 10:44 a.m. ET. What Others Are Saying:

– “HEALTH LAW STANDS.” (The New York Times)

– “Court Upholds Health Mandate As Tax.” (The Wall Street Journal)

– “ObamaCare SURVIVES.” (Fox News)

Update at 10:40 a.m. ET. The Decision Itself:

Want to read the court’s opinion? It’s posted here.

Update at 10:38 a.m. ET. Boehner Reacts, Renews Push For Repeal:

This tweet just showed up on House Speaker John Boehner’s page. It’s one of the first reactions from Republicans:

“Today’s ruling by the Supreme Court underscores the urgency of #fullrepeal of #ObamaCare j.mp/LFJTni #4jobs”

Update at 10:33 a.m. ET. The Key Points In “Plain English.”

From SCOTUSBlog:

“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.”

Update at 10:30 a.m. ET. Tax Issue “Saved” The Act:

On Morning Edition, NPR’s Ari Shapiro just explained that the individual mandate was upheld as a tax.

The Obama administration had argued that mandating that everyone in the country have insurance was constitutional under the Commerce Clause of the Constitution. That was the administration’s “A argument,” as Ari explained. The “B” argument was that the individual mandate was constitutional under the federal government’s ability to tax. During debate in Congress and in the law itself, the mandate is called a “penalty.” It was up to the Supreme Court to decide whether the penalty was indeed a tax.

It appears, Ari said, that the “tax argument is what saved President Obama’s signature law.”

Update at 10:28 a.m. ET. Chief Justice Was The Deciding Vote:

According to SCOTUSBlog’s Tom Goldstein, it was Chief Justice John Roberts who was the deciding vote on the key issue of whether the so-called individual mandate would survive. The vote was 5-4, says Goldstein, and Justice Anthony Kennedy sided with the “conservatives” while Roberts shifted to the “liberal” side.

Update at 10:24 a.m. ET. The Lede:

“The Supreme Court has upheld President Obama’s signature health care law,” NPR’s Carrie Johnson writes. “Chief Justice John Roberts says the individual mandate survives because the penalty it imposes for not having insurance is considered a tax.”

Also, NPR reports, “on the issue of the Medicaid expansion, a majority of the court said Congress can expand Medicaid, but can’t strip states of all their Medicaid funds if they fail to do the expansion.”

Update at 10:21 a.m. ET. “Yes We Did!”:

Supporters of President Obama broke out in chants of “Yes We Did!” outside the court building as word came that the law has been upheld.

Update at 10:19 a.m. ET. The “Money Quote”:

According to SCOTUSBlog, “the money quote from the section on the mandate is: ‘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.”

Update at 10:14 a.m. ET. “Entire ACA Is Upheld:”

According to SCOTUSBlog, “the bottom line [is that] the entire ACA [Affordable Care Act] is upheld, with the exception that the federal government’s power to terminate states’ Medicaid funds is narrowly read.”

Update at 10:10 a.m. ET. Individual Mandate Is Constitutional:

In a dramatic conclusion to the year’s most divisive legal debate, SCOTUSBlog says the U.S. Supreme Court has just ruled that the so-called individual mandate in the 2010 Affordable Care Act is constitutional — a decision that it’s believed means the entire law passed by President Obama survives.

Update at 10:07 a.m. ET. Health Care Opinion Being Released:

About 10 minutes earlier than expected, the health care opinion is now being released.

Update at 10:02 a.m. ET. “Stolen Valor” Act Is Unconstitutional:

In the day’s first decision, as SCOTUSBlog reports, the court affirms a Ninth Circuit decision that ruled the so-called Stolen Valor act is unconstitutional. The act made it a crime to lie about being the recipient of military medals. The justices voted 6-3 to affirm the lower court.

Update at 10 a.m. ET. Court Is In Session:

The justices have come to the bench, according to reporters at the court.

Update at 9:55 a.m. ET. On The Timing:

It’s most likely, court watchers say, that the health care decision will be released around 10:15 a.m. ET. It will come after some less notable cases.

Meanwhile, NPR’s Arnie Seipel reports that outside the court building “the sidewalks are packed.” He reports “the strangest sight so far has been a pair of belly dancers with a small band who support single-payer.”

Update at 9:50 a.m. ET. There Are Four Issues.

As SCOTUSBlog’s Lyle Denniston says, there are really four issues confronting the justices:

– Does the court have the authority to decide the constitutionality of the so-called individual mandate?

– If so, is that mandate constitutional?

– If the mandate isn’t constitutional, do some or all parts of the act go down with it?

– Is the act’s expansion of Medicaid constitutional?

SCOTUSBlog, by the way, is also live blogging.

Our Original Post:

If everything goes as expected, sometime between 10 a.m. ET and 10:30 a.m. ET we should get word about the Supreme Court’s most-anticipated decision of the year — on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act; the health care overhaul enacted in 2010.

Every U.S. news outlet, including NPR, has exhaustively previewed the decision, so we won’t go over that ground yet again, except to point to the post we did Wednesday called “Here’s How To Learn What The Supreme Court Says About Health Care.” It has background and links you may find useful.

We’ll use this post to cover the news as it comes in, so as decision time draws near be sure to hit your “refresh” button to see our latest updates.

NPR’s Ari Shapiro, Carrie Johnson and Nina Totenberg will be reporting on the NPR Newcast and Morning Edition once the decision is released, and on All Things Considered later in the day. At 7 p.m. ET, NPR will be broadcasting and streaming special coverage of the decision and what it means. Click here to find an NPR member station. [Copyright 2012 National Public Radio]

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