The big news from America today of course is that the Supreme Court has upheld the constitutionality of President Obama’s main legislative achievement, the “Affordable Care Act” or as some critics call it “Obamacare”. At its heart is what’s called the “individual mandate”: a legal requirement for individuals to buy health insurance, or pay a penalty. The full opinion is here, and can be read below.

I’ll leave the analysis to American experts. Today wasn’t a good day for all the American media, but it was very good for the team at SCOTUSblog, who broke the news of the opinion very quickly – and correctly. So I’m going to rely exclusively on their comprehensive coverage.

Here’s Lyle Denniston’s “reader’s guide” to the ruling, and his piece on the tax element of the opinion; a post from Richard A. Epstein on taxation and regulation under the Act; Kevin Russell on the implications for the Medicaid expansion policy; Tejinder Singh on the anti-injunction aspect of the case; and Adam Winkler on the significance of what Chief Justice Roberts said. Finally, here’s Amy Howe’s explanation of the opinion in plain English. I’ve taken from her post this very short summary of the opinion:

Although the Chief Justice rejected the government’s Commerce Clause argument, he agreed with one of the government’s alternative arguments:  the mandate imposes a tax on people who do not buy health insurance, and that tax is something that Congress can impose using its constitutional taxing power …

Justice Ginsburg (joined by Justices Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan) agreed with the Chief Justice’s bottom line – that the mandate is constitutional under Congress’s ability to tax – even while disagreeing with his Commerce Clause conclusion; those four Justices would have held that Congress could use its power to regulate commerce to pass the mandate.

2012-06-28T18:03:44+00:00Tags: , , |