Chief Justice Roberts Saves ACA

According to SCOTUSblog, the Supreme Court upheld President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act. The controversial individual mandate was upheld as Chief Justice John Roberts, a conservative, sided with the left.

SCOTUSblog is also reporting that the Medicaid provision has been limited, but not invalidated. The full opinion has yet to be put up on the Supreme Court's site.

The justices upheld the law 5-4, with Justice Anthony Kennedy — the usual swing vote — dissenting and siding with the conservative justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito. Roberts sided with the liberal justices Ruth Bader-Ginsberg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.

The opinion of the court was delivered by Roberts who wrote that "the individual mandate must be construed as imposing a tax on those who do not have health insurance, if such a construction is reasonable."

The Court decided that the individual mandate didn't fall under Congress' power to regulate commerce, but instead as part of Congress' power to lay and collect taxes by imposing a tax on those who do not buy a product.

The SCOTUSblog's Amy Howe broke down the opinion in plain English for those of us not used to dissecting legalese: 

"The Affordable Care Act, including its individual mandate that virtually all Americans buy health insurance, is constitutional. There were not five votes to uphold it on the ground that Congress could use its power to regulate commerce between the states to require everyone to buy health insurance. However, five Justices agreed that the penalty that someone must pay if he refuses to buy insurance is a kind of tax that Congress can impose using its taxing power. That is all that matters. Because the mandate survives, the Court did not need to decide what other parts of the statute were constitutional, except for a provision     that required states to comply with new eligibility requirements for Medicaid or risk losing their funding. On that question, the Court held that the provision is constitutional as long as states would only lose new funds if they didn't comply with the new requirements, rather than all of their funding."

According to the Court's opinion, those who do not want health insurance may forgo it and pay higher taxes. If they buy health insurance, then they'll pay lower taxes. But they can't avoid paying taxes.

As for the Medicaid issue, the majority of the Court holds that the expansion would violate the Constitution if the federal government withheld funds from states that didn't comply with the expansion provisions.

At 12:15 pm EST Obama is spoke on the health care ruling.

Read more:
Obama, Health Groups and Opponents Respond to ACA

Health Stocks Enjoy Big Gains from ACA Ruling