Health Care Mandate Upheld!…
In a major victory for President Barack Obama, the Supreme Court upheld the individual mandate and with it the rest of the Health Care law on a 5-4 decision. Chief Justice John Roberts joined the liberal bloc of the court, albeit on different grounds, to sustain the mandate. Roberts said that although Congress lacks the power to impose the mandate under the commerce clause, it is within its power to do so via its taxing and spending prerogatives. Kennedy, in a surprise, voted to strike the entire law. Roberts’ opinion also included a limitation on the government’s ability to require states to expand their Medicaid pools. Ginsburg, writing for the liberal bloc, said that the mandate is constitutional under the commerce clause and that the states can be compelled more forcefully to expand their Medicaid pools.
There does appear to be some impact on the commerce clause because five justices voted to strike the mandate’s viability under that portion of the constitution. However, legal landmines aside, the ruling is a huge victory for the Obama administration and may very well cement the Affordable Care Act for the foreseeable future.
The law has, in the analysis of one media outlet now circulated among all the branches of government and indeed it is up to voters now. However, even a Republican victory in November does not spell certain doom for the law. The reaction from Massachusetts political figures has been largely expected. Congressmen John Olver, Richard Neal and Jim McGovern all praised the Court’s decision. Governor Deval Patrick and Attorney General Martha Coakley also praised the decision (the commonwealth submitted amicus briefs supporting the law at Coakley’s direction). Senator John Kerry countered Senator Scott Brown’s disappointment with a call to implement the law and move on. Brown’s opposition to the health care law, like Mitt Romney’s, has always been a bit bizarre. Brown has relied on the notion that this is a states problem and that the federal law will harm Massachusetts. However, the law largely imposes identical burdens on business nationally that Massachusetts health reform does…which Scott Brown voted for as a State Senator.
Again, Senator John Kerry offers the best response to Brown:
Those who have sought to demonize health reform need to put an end to their scare tactics. This needs to begin a new day, where the test is not what you can oppose but what you can propose. Enough time has been wasted in the United States Congress on pointless repeal votes designed to score political points.
The fight will now be taken to the ballot box and although it will likely inflame the right and fill Romney’s campaign coffers, it gives Democrats and the President a chance to reaffirm that their efforts were not only right, but also not in vain. Just as critically, to his credit Chief Justice Roberts pulled back his Supreme Court from the edge of decay into partisanship. He also saved it from entering a new era of low public esteem. For the court to enter a new Dred Scott era of disrepute, as it did after cases like Lochner v. New York or, even Rowe v. Wade would collapse the Court’s reputation (which is its only real power) just as all other branches of government seem to have done.