Is mandating health insurance unconstitutional. Supreme Court Health Care Decision: Individual Mandate Survives.



Is mandating health insurance unconstitutional

Is mandating health insurance unconstitutional

Tap here to turn on desktop notifications to get the news sent straight to you. 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.

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 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 collect taxes.

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. Together, Roberts' controlling opinion, Ginsburg's concurrence, the four-justice dissent and Thomas' own dissent add up to pages. In a nod to the importance of the health care cases, Roberts, Ginsburg and Kennedy all chose to read summaries of their opinions from the bench. In a section of his opinion joined by the liberal justices, Roberts noted that the conservative dissenters contend that the mandate cannot be upheld as a tax "because Congress did not 'frame' it as such.

In effect, they contend that even if the Constitution permits Congress to do exactly what we interpret this statute to do, the law must be struck down because Congress used the wrong labels. Roberts wrote that the mandate provision "need not be read to do more than impose a tax. That is sufficient to sustain it. The federal government may not threaten the states that don't comply with the loss of their existing funding. Essentially, the Medicaid expansion is now optional for the states.

Congress may offer the States grants and require the States to comply with accompanying conditions, but the States must have a genuine choice whether to accept the offer. The States are given no such choice in this case: They must either accept a basic change in the nature of Medicaid, or risk losing all Medicaid funding. The remedy for that constitutional violation is to preclude the Federal Government from imposing such a sanction.

It amounts instead to a vast judicial overreaching," wrote the four other conservatives. They then looked to the political future: The majority's decision, they argued, "creates a debilitated, inoperable version of health-care regulation that Congress did not enact and the public does not expect. And it leaves the public and the States to expend vast sums of money on requirements that may or may not survive the necessary congressional revision.

By narrowing Congress' commerce and spending powers, Roberts moved the law in a decidedly conservative direction. Yet by invoking the taxing power, he saved not only the people but also Congress, the president and the Supreme Court itself from the consequences of their political choices that had seemed so evident at oral argument three months ago.

Careful legal parsing aside, the bottom line is: The Affordable Care Act has survived. Erin Mershon contributed to this report. Do you have information you want to share with HuffPost?

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Unconstitutional Government Mandated Health Insurance



Is mandating health insurance unconstitutional

Tap here to turn on desktop notifications to get the news sent straight to you. 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.

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 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 collect taxes. 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.

Together, Roberts' controlling opinion, Ginsburg's concurrence, the four-justice dissent and Thomas' own dissent add up to pages. In a nod to the importance of the health care cases, Roberts, Ginsburg and Kennedy all chose to read summaries of their opinions from the bench. In a section of his opinion joined by the liberal justices, Roberts noted that the conservative dissenters contend that the mandate cannot be upheld as a tax "because Congress did not 'frame' it as such.

In effect, they contend that even if the Constitution permits Congress to do exactly what we interpret this statute to do, the law must be struck down because Congress used the wrong labels. Roberts wrote that the mandate provision "need not be read to do more than impose a tax. That is sufficient to sustain it. The federal government may not threaten the states that don't comply with the loss of their existing funding. Essentially, the Medicaid expansion is now optional for the states.

Congress may offer the States grants and require the States to comply with accompanying conditions, but the States must have a genuine choice whether to accept the offer. The States are given no such choice in this case: They must either accept a basic change in the nature of Medicaid, or risk losing all Medicaid funding. The remedy for that constitutional violation is to preclude the Federal Government from imposing such a sanction.

It amounts instead to a vast judicial overreaching," wrote the four other conservatives. They then looked to the political future: The majority's decision, they argued, "creates a debilitated, inoperable version of health-care regulation that Congress did not enact and the public does not expect.

And it leaves the public and the States to expend vast sums of money on requirements that may or may not survive the necessary congressional revision. By narrowing Congress' commerce and spending powers, Roberts moved the law in a decidedly conservative direction.

Yet by invoking the taxing power, he saved not only the people but also Congress, the president and the Supreme Court itself from the consequences of their political choices that had seemed so evident at oral argument three months ago. Careful legal parsing aside, the bottom line is: The Affordable Care Act has survived. Erin Mershon contributed to this report. Do you have information you want to share with HuffPost?

Is mandating health insurance unconstitutional

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4 Comments

  1. And it leaves the public and the States to expend vast sums of money on requirements that may or may not survive the necessary congressional revision. As James Madison said: The Affordable Care Act has survived.

  2. Judge Kessler managed to go even further than this, suggesting that Congress has the power to regulate "decision-making" because it is "mental activity. As James Madison explained in Federalist 39, the Constitution does not give the federal government "an indefinite supremacy over all persons and things. But after walking through the arguments, Hall concludes that there are no legal objections likely to be sustained by the current Supreme Court:

  3. Indeed, the individual health insurance mandate was itself partly the result of such interest group pressure. There are numerous industry interest groups that would dearly love to get congressional legislation requiring people to buy their products.

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