In case you somehow missed it, the United States Supreme Court has ruled, in a 5-4 decision, that the Affordable Care Act (derisively dubbed ‘Obamacare’ by its opponents) does not violate the Constitution and will still carry the force of law.
For a rundown of the decision, check out Ezra Klein’s blog:
“The bottom line: the entire ACA is upheld”
That’s what SCOTUSBlog wrote moments after the Supreme Court announced its ruling on the health-care law. But it wasn’t upheld in the way most thought it would be. The decision was 5-4, with Chief Justice John Roberts siding with the Court’s liberals, and Justice Anthony Kennedy casting his vote with the conservatives.
This will be covered, in many quarters, as a political story. It means President Obama — and Solicitor General Don Verrilli — are popping the champagne. It means that Mitt Romney and the Republicans who were fighting the health-care law have suffered a setback. It will be covered in other quarters as a legal story: It is likely to be central to Roberts’ legacy, and perhaps even to how we understand the divisions in the Court going forward.
To read the full decision for yourself (it’s only 193 pages – go nuts), click here.
For a simplified explanation of what the law does, and why people opposed it in the first place, check out this great thread on Reddit.
For my reaction, please consult the following .gif of Ron Swanson:
More information and analysis will be coming for a while, so I suggest you monitor my Twitter feed, where I’ll do my best to RT the choicest nuggets.
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This is kind of interesting. Chief Justice John Roberts ‘crossed the aisle’ (he usually decides with the rigid conservatives on the bench) and voted with the majority. This surprised a lot of people. The particularly fascinating tidbit is the reason why then-Senator Barack Obama voted against Justice Roberts’ confirmation to the court:
The problem I had is that when I examined Judge Roberts’ record and history of public service, it is my personal estimation that he has far more often used his formidable skills on behalf of the strong in opposition to the weak. In his work in the White House and the Solicitor General’s Office, he seemed to have consistently sided with those who were dismissive of efforts to eradicate the remnants of racial discrimination in our political process. In these same positions, he seemed dismissive of the concerns that it is harder to make it in this world and in this economy when you are a woman rather than a man.
So while this wasn’t officially a ruling on racism and sexism (although you’re crazy if you don’t think that making health care more affordable disproportionately benefits women and people of colour), it seems that, at least on this issue, President Obama’s estimation of Justice Roberts was at least partially mistaken.
While I’m sure some of these are sarcasm, Poe’s Law is in full effect here. If you don’t understand why this is funny, please let me know in an e-mail, and I will send a kindergarten teacher to your house to give you a basic civics lesson.
Ooh, conspiracy theory. Justice Scalia’s dissent was written as though it was a majority decision. Was it written before the decision was reached, or was there a flip after the dissent was written?
This may be good news in the short-term, but court watchers note that this decision has far-reaching effects that should make conservatives much happier than they currently are:
The business about “new and potentially vast” authority is a fig leaf. This is a substantial rollback of Congress’ regulatory powers, and the chief justice knows it. It is what Roberts has been pursuing ever since he signed up with the Federalist Society. In 2005, Sen. Barack Obama spoke in opposition to Roberts’ nomination, saying he did not trust his political philosophy on tough questions such as “whether the Commerce Clause empowers Congress to speak on those issues of broad national concern that may be only tangentially related to what is easily defined as interstate commerce.” Today, Roberts did what Obama predicted he would do.
Roberts’ genius was in pushing this health care decision through without attaching it to the coattails of an ugly, narrow partisan victory. Obama wins on policy, this time. And Roberts rewrites Congress’ power to regulate, opening the door for countless future challenges. In the long term, supporters of curtailing the federal government should be glad to have made that trade.