Open Thread: SCOTUS Rules on Obamacare; Update: Mandate Upheld 5-4 as a “Tax”; Roberts, not Kennedy, Saves Obamacare
Posted on June 28 2012 – 9:20 AM – Posted by: Doug Brady
The big decision is less than an hour away. How do I think the vote will go? It’s anyone’s guess, but for what it’s worth, I predicted back in January that Obamacare would be upheld by the Court with Anthony Kennedy providing the key vote:
If there’s anyone out there who thinks Anthony Kennedy will put the genie back in the bottle and restore some sanity to the commerce clause, I have some swampland to sell you. The only way to get rid of the ObamaCare disaster is through the political process…
I believe, as others have suggested, that Roberts could side with Kennedy and the liberals so that he can write the opinion, thus limiting the scope of the decision so that future Congresses don’t get any crazy ideas about mandating, say, how often I have to eat peas and from whom I must purchase them. I think oral arguments in March gave some reason for optimism, but as I sit here moments before the decision is announced, I’m sticking with my original prediction. It’s just a gut feeling. I hope I’m wrong. If I am and the individual mandate gets tossed, I’ll be hoisting a rare morning cold one to celebrate. I’ll have two if the entire thing gets thrown out (as it should). In any event, this will all be academic shortly. The Supreme Court’s official website is here. On the right side of the main page you’ll see the Court’s most recent decisions, including the three on Monday. These will be updated one by one at 10:00 AM or so as each of the decisions are released. Another good source of information is the SCOTUS Blog.
Update: The strangest part of this is that Anthony Kennedy actually voted to kill the mandate. It was Roberts, however, who voted to uphold it as a tax.
In a victory for President Obama, the Supreme Court decided to uphold his signature health care law’s individual mandate in a 5-4 decision, upending speculation after hostile-seeming oral arguments in March that the justices would overturn the law. The mandate has been upheld as a tax, according to SCOTUSblog, with Chief Justice John Roberts joining the liberal wing of the court. Tom Goldstein of SCOTUSblog says Roberts’ vote “saved’ the Affordable Care Act.
Twenty six states sued over the law, arguing that the individual mandate, which requires people to buy health insurance or face a fine starting in 2014, was unconstitutional. Opponents cast the individual mandate as the government forcing Americans to enter a market and buy a product against their will, while the government countered that the law was actually only regulating a market that everyone is already in, since almost everyone will seek health care at some point in his or her life.
Update II: Ed Morrissey has a great take on the notion that money collected by private insurance companies is now considered a tax under Roberts’ bizarre logic:
After months and months of focusing on Anthony Kennedy as the weak link in the conservative chain at the Supreme Court, it turns out that Chief Justice John Roberts was the one the Right needed to fear. With the more centrist Kennedy dissenting, Roberts signed off on the individual mandate in ObamaCare, not as part of Congress’ power under the Commerce Clause, or even the ludicrous reference to the “Good and Welfare Clause” from some Democrats, but from the more mundane and substantial power to tax. The opinion actually ruled that the mandate violates the Commerce Clause, but as a tax that no longer matters.
It’s an interesting argument, but one that should have Americans worried. Basically, this is a tax that you have to pay to private companies. For all of the screaming the Right did over single-payer — and for good, outcome-based reasons — at least the taxes raised to fund it would go directly to government. The Supreme Court has signed off on what is, in very practical terms, a tax levied by the insurance industry on Americans simply for existing. It’s an amazing, and fearsome, decision that really should have both Right and Left horrified.
Read Morrissey’s entire piece here. Here’s video of Obama in an interview with George Stephanopoulos insisting the mandate is not a tax increase: (h/t Steve)
Update III: Governor Palin tweeted the following:
Obama lied to the American people. Again. He said it wasn’t a tax. Obama lies; freedom dies.