Supreme Court upholds Obama’s health-care law
By Robert Barnes
June 28, 2012
Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. on Thursday joined the liberal wing of the Supreme Court to save the heart of President Obama’s landmark health-care law, agreeing that the requirement for nearly all Americans to secure health insurance is permissible under Congress’s taxing authority.
Even as it upheld that central component of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, however, the court modified another key provision of the law, ruling that the federal government cannot withdraw existing Medicaid funding from states that decide not to participate in a broad expansion of Medicaid eligibility.
The court’s historic compromise, which will affect the health-care choices of millions of Americans, amounts to a major victory for the White House less than five months before the November elections, although the Medicaid decision sets new limits on the power of the national government.
President Obama welcomed the ruling, which he called “a victory for people all over this country whose lives will be more secure.” He said the decision would allow the health-care law to offer millions of currently uninsured Americans “an array of quality, affordable health-insurance plans to choose from” starting in 2014.
“Today the Supreme Court also upheld the principle that people who can afford health insurance should take the responsibility to buy health insurance,” Obama said in televised speech at the White House. He said he knew that this individual mandate “wouldn’t be politically popular” and that the debate over the law “has been divisive.” But he said the law was “good for the country” and “good for the American people.”
“The highest court in the land has now spoken,” Obama said. “We will continue to implement this law. And we’ll work together to improve on it where we can. But what we won’t do, what the country can’t afford to do, is refight the political battles of two years ago or go back to the way things were. With today’s announcement, it’s time for us to move forward.”
Illustrating the divided nature of the ruling, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, representing the court’s most consistent conservatives, read a scathing dissent, while Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, representing the liberals, issued a separate opinion supporting Roberts but differing with him on key aspects of the case...