health carnage

Supreme Court Upholds Obamacare [Updated]

U.S. President Barack Obama urges Congress to pass legislation that would keep federal student loan rates from doubling during an event in the East Room of the White House June 21, 2012 in Washington D.C.
Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Obamacare’s years-long journey through the halls of Congress and the American court system finally reached its conclusion this morning when the Supreme Court announced that the Affordable Care Act’s mandate that all individuals must buy health insurance or face a penalty is constitutional.

We’ll be constantly updating this post with reactions, analysis, and further developments, so stay tuned.

Update: Basically, the Supreme Court ruled that the mandate is legal because it’s a tax. Via SCOTUSblog:

Our precedent demonstrates that Congress had the power to impose the exaction in Section 5000A under the taxing power, and that Section 5000A need not be read to do more than impose a tax. This is sufficient to sustain it.”

Update II: The decision upholding the mandate was 5-4, with the Bush-appointed Chief Justice John Roberts, who wrote the majority opinion, joining the liberal bloc of Sotomayor, Kagan, Ginsburg, and Breyer.

Update III: According to SCOTUSblog, Roberts only found the mandate constitutional as a tax, while Sotomayor, Kagan, Ginsburg, and Breyer found it to be constitutional under Congress’s Commerce Clause powers. But they all agreed it was constitutional in one way or another.

Update IV: The other four justices — Alito, Thomas, Scalia, and Kennedy — voted to strike down the entire law.

Update V: As it sinks in that Chief Justice John Roberts just saved Obamacare, we are reminded that Senator Obama voted against confirming Roberts to the Court, that Roberts screwed up Obama’s oath of office, that Obama chastised Roberts’s Citizens United decision during the State of the Union address, and that Roberts responded by calling Obama’s behavior “troubling.” 

Update VI: Meet the GOP’s new favorite clip ever: Obama arguing in 2009 that the health-care penalty was “absolutely not a tax increase.”

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Update VII: Politiwoops catches some Republican congresspeople who jumped the gun on Twitter (thanks to conflicting news reports when the decision was first announced) and then deleted their tweets.

Update VIII: The House will vote on July 11 to repeal Obamacare, according to Majority Leader Eric Cantor. Not because the GOP expects a repeal to actually happen, but just, we guess, to make a point.

Update IX: Let’s check out some reactions from conservatives on Twitter, shall we?

Update X: We don’t know if anyone in world predicted this decision with total accuracy (5-4 vote upholding the mandate with Roberts joining the liberals but disagreeing with their rationale), but we do know that InTrade was very wrong, and not for the first time.

Update XI: Mitt Romney just gave his statement on the Supreme Court’s decision. He said that he sided with the minority opinion (obviously), and vowed to repeal and replace Obamacare. While the court ruled that Obamacare is constitutional, it did not “say that Obamacare was good law, or good policy. Obamacare was bad policy yesterday, it’s bad policy today.” Romney said that the replacement for Obamacare must do things like lower the cost of health care and ensure that people with pre-existing conditions can keep their insurance, which, incidentally, are two things that Obamacare already does.

He finished by asking for help “defeat[ing] the liberal agenda.” He took no questions.

Update XII: By the way, CNN and Fox News both screwed up royally when the decision first came out, reporting that the mandate had been struck down.

Update XIII: President Obama, speaking from the White House just now, said that the discussion about the politics of the Supreme Court’s ruling “completely misses the point,” because the decision is a victory for people in need of health care all over the country. Obama, for probably the 400th time, then ran through a description of the law’s selling points, which we will not repeat here because you have heard them 400 times already. Obama acknowledged the “divisive” debate and suggested that it “should be pretty clear by now that I didn’t do this because it was good politics. I did it because I believed it was good for the country.”

Update XIV: Some legal observers have noticed that Justice Scalia’s dissent, oddly, reads like a majority opinion. It seems that Roberts may have … [thunder clap] … switched his vote!

Update XV: Ted Kennedy can finally rest now, Nancy Pelosi told Vicki Kennedy in a phone call.

Update XVI: “No!” said Matfess. “I just have lupus!” Great scene of the reaction outside the Supreme Court, courtesy of Dave Weigel.

Update XVII: Legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, whose delcaration on March 27 that oral arguments had been a “train wreck” for the Obama administration directly led to much of the pessimism felt by liberals in weeks and months leading to the Supreme Court’s ruling, has admitted that he was wrong.

The same accountablity we demand of others we should demand of ourselves: I acknowledge that I got it wrong,” he said. “I was highly critical of Verilli’s argument, and Verilli’s argument won the case.”

“I’m eating some crow,” he continued. “It’s important for me to be gracious and not to pretend the I didn’t get something wrong.”

Update XVIII: Another flashback: Kurt Andersen, in his 2005 column “The Golden-Boy Nominee,” wrote that he believed Roberts would turn out to be “a real old-fashioned conservative rather than any sort of culture warrior out to socially reengineer America.”

Update XIX: Cable news gave President Obama quite a scare. According to ABC News, Obama “saw graphics on the screens of the first two cable news networks to break the news — CNN and Fox News Channel — announcing, wrongly, that he had lost. Senior administration officials say the president was calm.” But, of course, that’s what they have to say, even if he was actually crying and throwing expensive vases.

Update XX: Of all the over-the-top reactions to the ruling today, Indiana congressman (and gubernatorial candidate) Mike Pence had the jerkiest one. In a close door GOP meeting, according to Politico, Pence “likened the Supreme Court’s ruling upholding the Democratic health care law to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.” He has since apologized.

Update XXI: Oh Joe.

Update XXII: Bill O’Reilly promised two months ago that, if Obamacare was upheld, he’d “apologize for being an idiot.” Can’t wait!

Supreme Court Upholds Mandate, Obamacare