In a dramatic victory for President Barack Obama, the Supreme Court upheld the 2010 health care law Thursday, preserving Obama’s landmark legislative achievement.
The majority opinion was written by Chief Justice John Roberts, who held that the law was a valid exercise of Congress’s power to tax.
Roberts re-framed the debate over health care as a debate over increasing taxes. Congress, he said, is “increasing taxes” on those who choose to go uninsured.The 2010 law, the Affordable Care Act, requires non-exempted individuals to maintain a minimum level of health insurance or pay a tax penalty.
“the Affordable Care Act was saved by Chief Justice John Roberts.”
The four justices joining Roberts in upholding the law were Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.
The dissenting justices were Justices Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito.
Goldstein said the Obama administration “got the one vote they really needed in Chief Justice John Roberts.”
When he served in the Senate in 2005, Obama voted against confirming Roberts as chief justice, arguing that he lacked empathy for underdogs and “he has far more often used his formidable skills on behalf of the strong in opposition to the weak.”
Roberts reasoned that “there’s no real compulsion here” since those who do not pay the penalty for not having insurance can’t be sent to jail.
He said the ruling had made it clear “If we want to get rid of Obamacare, we're going to have replace President Obama.”
But in a major victory for the states who challenged the law, the court said that the Obama administration cannot coerce states to go along with the Medicaid insurance program for low-income people.
“A State that opts out of the Affordable Care Act’s expansion in health care coverage thus stands to lose not merely ‘a relatively small percentage’ of its existing Medicaid funding, but all of it,” Roberts said.