The individual health insurance mandate is constitutional, the Supreme Court ruled Thursday, upholding the central provision of President Barack Obama's signature Affordable Care Act.
The controlling opinion, written by Chief Justice John Roberts,
upheld the mandate as a tax, although concluded it was not valid as an
exercise of Congress' commerce clause power. Justices Ruth Bader
Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan joined in the
The decision in National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius
comes as something of a surprise after the generally hostile reception
the law received during the six hours of oral arguments held over three
days in March. But by siding with the court's four Democratic
appointees, Chief Justice Roberts avoided the delegitimizing taint of
politics that surrounds a party-line vote while passing Obamacare's fate
back to the elected branches. GOP candidates and incumbents will surely
spend the rest of the 2012 campaign season running against the Supreme
Court and for repeal of the law.
Five justices concluded that the mandate, which requires virtually
all Americans to obtain minimum health insurance coverage or pay a
penalty, falls within Congress' power under the Constitution to "lay and
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