United States readers will likely know that today is the day that the Supreme Court has chosen to release their Opinion(s) on the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. The only consensus about today’s decision is that no one is certain how they’ll rule, and this event has more or less singlehandedly occupied my thoughts today. I’m eagerly awaiting the official announcement, scheduled to come down
in approximately 45 minutes soon (rulings will begin coming out, at 10:00 am, but the Obamacare one will probably be the last one announced). I intend to follow the development as it happens, but I don’t know if I’ll actually write anything about it here. If I do address it, it will probably be to aggregate other writings by more capable legal scholars. When the furor over it has died down a bit, I might get around to writing a post before tomorrow, but I’m not actively planning to do so. We’ll see.
If you want to follow it as it unfolds, SCOTUSblog is liveblogging it here.
Needless to say, regardless of the outcome, this will be touted as an event with deep political significance by all pundits who want to be seen as relevant. In other words, we probably won’t hear about anything else until Monday. Joy.
There are other important things coming out from the Supreme Court today, but all I’ve seen from the media is ACA gossip. Hum. I wonder if that could have something to do with the politicization of that particular case.
Update, from SCOTUSblog:
In Plain English: 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.
This was a 5-to-4 vote entirely upholding the Constitutionality of the ACA. The thing that most surprises me here is neither of these facts, but the fact that the fifth vote was that of Chief Justice Roberts. Kennedy swung with the conservatives, and all four of them apparently believe that the ACA should have been struck down entirely. Yikes. Glad the good guys won.
Want to read the Opinion? It’s online.
The SCOTUS also dealt with two other cases today, and you can see a summary of those here.