The U.S. Supreme Court, just moments ago, handed down its eagerly anticipated opinion on the controversial healthcare legislation known to most Americans as Obamacare. The 5-4 ruling held some unexpected surprises.
Chief Justice Roberts actually sided with the majority opinion, which comes as a shock to many conservatives who thought the conservative justice would have seen things there way. Justice Kennedy was actually the biggest voice of opposition, which also comes as a surprise to many moderates who thought he would be the swing vote deeming the law constitutional. The controversy stems from what is at the heart and soul of this legislation, the individual mandate. This mandate requires most Americans to obtain health insurance by 2014. Many saw this as unconstitutional, because it was forcing Americans to purchase a product.
The mandate really boiled down to semantics, in a sense. Chief Justice Roberts explained in the opinion that the Affordable Care Act was partly constitutional and partly not. The supporters of this legislation said that it was constitutional under the Commerce Clause however, Justice Roberts did not agree. Roberts wrote, “That Clause authorizes Congress to regulate interstate commerce, not to order individuals to engage it. In this case, however, it is reasonable to construe what Congress has done as increasing taxes on those who have a certain amount of income, but choose to go without health insurance. Such legislation is within Congress’s power to tax.”
This wording may be what amounts to a political blow to the Obama administration, who argued heavily that this legislation would not amount to be a tax on the people. Basically, the Supreme Court is saying it has to be considered a tax or it isn’t constitutional.
Now all that is left is to try and cut through the rhetoric and try to decipher how this truly will affect healthcare and the well being of Americans.