It was 5-4, but curiously enough, it was Bush-appointed Roberts rather than Kennedy who broke from the conservative pack. Roberts agreed with the conservatives that to force individuals to engage in affirmative economic activity (instead of mere prohibitions) was a “novel” application of the Commerce Clause (and only Ginsberg actually argued that proposition). But he ruled that by allowing the choice between mandated coverage and a penalty, the act is lawful by virtue of taxing power – the “penalty” constituting a “tax.”
Josh Marshal on why this is a good result even if you support single payer healthcare.
Both Fox and CNN managed to bungle the story this morning, proclaiming that Dewey had won.
Hank has some good stuff.
Republicans are pushing repeal (again). Orrin Hatch twittered:
Only, that’s not true.
I will have more to say later.
Addendum: The Nation posted an excellent article on the ruling, explaining Roberts’ decision pretty well, and dismissing concerns about the impact on the Commerce Clause since this was the first law ever to mandate economic activity (usually it simply regulates or prohibits it). And the Medicaid funding issue was explained, and I didn’t get it until I read the article as it has been misreported everywhere all day long.
The other provision challenged conditioned state’s receipt of Medicaid funding on their implementation of the Act’s greatly expanded Medicaid coverage. Where Medicaid initially covered only several discrete categories of persons, under the ACA it extends to all adults earning less than 133 percent of the poverty level. The states argued that threatening them with loss of all their Medicaid funding was a coercive condition on the funding. Seven members of the Court agreed that if the law were enforced to take away state’s existingMedicaid funds it would be unconstitutional, but the majority upheld the provision as a condition only on the funds provided for the expanded Medicaid program. It seems unlikely that states will turn down those funds. Under the ACA, the federal government initially covers 100 percent of all new Medicaid costs, and while the federal contribution diminishes over time, it never falls below 90 percent of the program’s cost, so any rational state will likely take the money and expand its coverage.
I think a few small red states might initially refuse the money, but I doubt that’ll last more than a few years.
And Nation also provides this survey of conservative responses.
So, did this decision render Obama a one-term President? He goes down in history as having fundamentally altered the structure of the health care economy either way, and he did say the first time around that if passing a universal health care measure limited him to one term that he could live with that. But can the rest of us live with three or four Justices being appointed by Romney? I wish we had gotten a public option out of the deal, even though I think it will eventually happen.
I’m not convinced however. Yes, Obama will be outspent thanks to Citizens United, but he does benefit from the fact that his opponent comes across as a dick that nobody really likes. The polls released today look good for Obama. But the GOP will do considerable fundraising over this, and voter suppression is in full swing in some key states. Moreover, the ruling is likely to galvanize the Right through the summer and into the fall. It could even have a negative impact on local elections.
And here are some more conservatives responses. My favorite is the threat to move to Canada.
Second addendum: Here’s more on the CNN/Fox slop-fest, which apparently the President heard first.
By the way, the four conservatives against the law – they would have repealed everything – all 900 pages, for the lack of a severability clause.