An informational alert prepared by Fifth Freedom
Information courtesy of USA Today, the New York Times, ABC News, and The Guardian
Supreme Court Upholds Healthcare Reform Law
This morning, July 28, the US Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act, the highly controversial healthcare reform law. The main question before the court was the "individual mandate", the requirement that all Americans purchase health insurance by 2014 or pay a penalty. The Court declared today that the individual mandate is constitutional. According to the Court, the penalty is a tax, and falls within Congress's authority to tax under the Interstate Commerce Clause of the Constitution.
During the debates, lawyer Paul Clement argued that Congress was essentially forcing Americans to buy a product. Many opponents of the law argued that interpreting the Commerce Clause in this way gives Congress the power to force Americans to buy anything. In fact, during the debate, Chief Justice John Roberts asked, "Can the government require you to buy a cell phone because that would facilitate responding when you need emergency services?" Later in the debate, Justice Antonin Scalia asked if Congress had the power to force Americans to buy broccoli.
The healthcare law was upheld 5 to 4. In a surprise to many, the deciding vote was cast by Roberts, a conservative appointed by President George W. Bush. In the ruling, he wrote "Because the Constitution permits such a tax, it is not our role to forbid it, or to pass upon its wisdom or fairness."
Despite the ruling of the Court, the healthcare law is not guaranteed to last. Presidential candidate Mitt Romney has repeatedly vowed to undo the law if he is elected.
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