BREAKING: Supreme Court Upholds ObamaCare's Individual Mandate as a Tax

The Supreme Court has ruled that ObamaCare's individual mandate to purchase health insurance will survive as a tax, with Chief Justice Roberts joining the court liberals to write a majority opinion. The court also placed some narrow limits on federal power to limit state Medicaid funds.

Update: SCOTUSBlog reports that Chief Justice John Roberts cast the deciding vote to save the law. Essentially the entire law will stand. 

Update: The ruling states that, "The court reinforces that individuals can simply refuse to pay the tax and not comply with the mandate."

Update: The Supreme Court did not invalidate the law's Medicaid expansion, but states are allowed to opt out of participating in the expansion without losing existing federal Medicaid funds. 

Details still coming in, with many reporting that the ruling is unexpectedly complex and confusing. This post will be updated. 

Check back soon for a full analysis of the ruling. 

Catch up with Reason’s coverage of ObamaCare and the Supreme Court here. And check out Reason's cover package on the landmark court challenge that led to the ruling: 

ObamaCare on Trial. The libertarian legal movement threatens Barack Obama's signature law. By Damon Root.

The ObamaCare Tax? Regulation, taxation, and the insurance mandate. By Jacob Sullum.

Wonky Justice. The dubious policy assumptions behind ObamaCare's legal defense. By Peter Suderman.

What's Next if ObamaCare Is Struck Down? The political upside of ditching the health insurance mandate. By Peter Suderman.

Fair-Weather Federalists. Why conservatives and progressives should unite against an overweening national government. By Jacob Sullum.

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  • wareagle||

    so if you call a mandate a tax, then it's okay. When it's okay for govt to require that you buy one thing, won't be long till it's requiring that you buy other things, too.

  • DEG||

    The progressive slavers see this as a feature, not a bug. Fuckers.

  • Alan||

    +1

  • ||

    It would be fucking delicious if republicans got control of the government and decided to mandate that everyone that reached the age of majority must buy a firearm. The wailing from MSNBC and other liberals would be hilarious.

    Fuck, if memory serves, there's ACTUAL precedent for that.

  • DEG||

    Fucking slavers.

  • robc||

    +++

  • benji||

    Barack Obama confirmed as the greatest American president. Fought back the corporate interests and gave us all free medical care.

  • ||

    Free?

  • RBS||

    Like fighting off all those insurance companies?

  • dunkel||

    benji is a moron, but he makes up for it by being a piece of shit sycophant.

  • Proprietist||

    He wasn't being sarcastic?

  • dunkel||

    Are you sure I wasn't being sarcastic?

  • Proprietist||

    Are you sure I wasn't being sarcastic?

  • Viktor||

    I'm guessing he was being sarcastic.

  • Loki||

    Based on his comments below, I don't think that's the case. He really is that stupid, and unfortunately there's probably a lot more where he came from. I'll probably be avoiding Reason for a couple of days. The gloating of the trolls is already beginning. Soon Tony, Shrike, and all the others will be arriving to add their special brand of keyboard diarrhea to the frothy mixture as well.

    Sigh, it's gonna be a long day.

  • ||

    Corporate interests wrote it.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    gave us all free medical care.

    By taxing the poor and uninsured.

  • benji||

    Those people will receive subsidies from the government. Learn what the fucking historic legislation says before you bitch and repeat Limdick, king of the rednecks, lies.

  • db||

    You are a theif and apologist for theives.

  • benji||

    Says the GOP brownshirts who want people to die just so they don't have to pay for their medical care and can continue to throw the costs onto us patriotic Americans.

  • Intn'l House of Badass||

    I might want people to die, but I'm not willing to let my tax money be spent killing them.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    SCOTUS just called the president a liar.

    Obamacare is a tax on the poor and uninsured.

    No matter how much progressive pussies wish that it weren't.

    Own it bitch.

  • ||

    My god, you people really do believe that there is no one out there who might not be able to afford health insurance but makes too much to be covered by the subsidy.

    Also, forcing people to buy insurance DOES NOT EQUAL ACCESS TO CARE you fucking piece of shit moron.

  • ||

    The individual mandate has NEVER been about 28 yo Citizen X's risk of requiring medical care in the future. It's about Citizen X being FORCED to pay into the system now, whether he wants to or not, so that there is enough in the risk pool in order to pay for 60 yo Citizen Y's stroke treatment now.

    If some men are entitled by right to the products of the work of others, it means that those others are deprived of their rights and condemned to slave labor. Any alleged “right” of one man, which necessitates the violation of the rights of another, is not and cannot be a right. No man can possibly have a right to impose an unchosen obligation, an unrewarded duty or an involuntary servitude on another man. There can be no such thing as “the right to enslave.”

    The word "enslave" might seem like hyperbole. Fine, then come up with a more appropriate word for working without compensation at the point of a gun for someone else's benefit.

  • ||

    Amen.

  • Alan||

    Obama: Slaver in chief.

  • dunkel||

    Fuck you Roberts, you piece of shit.

  • Joe R.||

    Maybe it's his secret plan to get Romney elected.

  • daveInAustin||

    Who appointed Roberts? The same guy who appointed Bernake, Paulson and Rumsfeld. What do you expect?

  • Bardas Phocas||

    I hate that guy.

  • John Thacker||

    Well, he *did* try to nominate Harriet Miers first.

    Who knows how she would have ruled?

  • Concerned Citizen||

    Repeal!

  • thom||

    Repeal would be nice, but now the precedent is set and the damage is done: Congress apparently has unlimited power.

  • robc||

    Actually, that appears to be what Roberts avoided with the ruling.

    You have to pay the tax (but whats new?) but you dont have to comply with the mandate.

  • kinnath||

    yes

  • thom||

    Basically, I'm allowed to be uninsured but I still have to pay for insurance, one way or another. Hmmm...still seems kind of dodgy to me.

  • Auric Demonocles||

    He could have avoided it by voting it as unconstitutional too.

  • robc||

    Well yeah, but he is a statist-pussy, so that wasnt going to happen.

  • WhatAboutBob||

    "Barack Obama confirmed as the greatest American president. Fought back the corporate interests and gave us all free medical care."

    So few words, so much sarcasm!

  • ||

    Wow. I thought it was going to be some kind of clusterfuck.

  • ||

    Well, that's a surprise.

  • ||

    I thought for a minute they might do the right thing here. I am apparently a hopelessly naive idiot. It is a sad day in America.

  • LTC John||

    Me too - I actually thought they would ashcan the whole thing, instead of slapping a new coat of paint on it and pretending its all fine.

  • John Thacker||

    4 of them did vote to do so. 4 is not a majority, though.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Silly rabbit, rights aren't for proles!

  • ||

    Why would you ever expect a government to do the right thing, my adorably naive Eskimo princess?

    "It is sad that governments are chiefed by the double tongues."

  • Concerned Citizen||

    Romney will now win in a landslide.

  • tarran||

    Why?

    It's not an issue he can run on... he supported it here in MA.

  • Apparently a 'statist'||

    "Why?"

    Because the MILLIONS of Reason readers will vote Romney no matter what now, to show that statist Obama what for!

  • Viktor||

    I know I won't vote for Romney or Obama. I'm not doing the lesser of two evils nonsense. I'm not voting for evil period.

  • Joe R.||

    I'm not voting for evil period.

    I'm not voting, period.

  • Joe R.||

    He's said he'd repeal it. That may be an irrational hope, but nonetheless, hopeful conservatives are going to be turning out in droves. I think the enthusiasm factor just shifted. The side with the most excited base frequently wins. I think it applies to 8 out of 9 presidential elections in my lifetime (2000 being too close to call).

  • tarran||

    He's said he'd repeal it

    Romney says many things. The one thing he never does is cross the civil service.

    If you vote for Romney, you are voting to keep Obamacare in place.

  • Cytotoxic||

    I highly doubt that.

  • John Thacker||

    If you vote for Romney, you are voting to keep Obamacare in place.

    Yes. OTOH, if you vote for Obama, you are voting to keep Obamacare in place. Also, due to the electorate, if you vote for Gary Johnson, you are also voting to keep Obamacare in place.

  • Brandon Magoon||

    No, if you vote for Johnson you are voting for someone who want's to repeal it. You might not get what you want but that's what you will be voting for.

  • Joe R.||

    I did call it an irrational hope. Right after that part you quoted. Go look. That 2nd sentence matters.

    And no, I'm not voting for Romney.

  • ||

    ..because he's so credible as an Obamacare opponent, right?

  • Adamsmith1776||

    Time to invoke Article V.

  • ||

    Did the Obama lawyers even ask them to consider it as a tax?

  • freeAgent||

    Yes. It wasn't a tax before it was a tax, though.

  • Joe R.||

    Right. They couldn't call it a tax during the legislative arguments because it would have been killed then. So they had to fucking lie about it.

  • John Thacker||

    Yes, they asked them to consider it as a tax once the court challenges got serious. The politicians denied it beforehand, though.

  • NL_||

    Yes, and I believe every lower court agreed it was not a tax - even the ones that upheld the mandate.

  • Broseph of Invention||

    I believe they called it a "Troll Toll". You've gotta pay the troll toll.

  • Bitter Taxpayer||

    So. Now we're going to hell at 90 mph instead to 60 mph. Just great.

  • Bitter Taxpayer||

    "to" = "of"

  • squarooticus||

    Now we're going of hell?

  • BakedPenguin||

    Yes, muchly.

  • Raston Bot||

    The quicker you get there, the quicker you'll recover.

  • ||

    thankfully, death will be more instantaneous.

  • Brett L||

    From SCOTUSBlog: "The court reiterates that individuals can simply refuse to pay the tax and comply with the mandate."

    What? I can simply refuse to pay my federal taxes? This is a landmark decision!

  • Bitter Taxpayer||

    But then you have to comply with the mandate. Which, in the case of income tax, is the mandate to be assraped in prison.

  • NoTalentAssclown||

    that was a typo and clarified in scotusblog

  • Brett L||

    Updated: "You can't refuse to pay the tax... The only consequence of refusing to accept the mandate is paying the tax."

  • Auric Demonocles||

    "The only consequence of refusing to accept the restrictions on public speech is paying a tax."

  • Lost_In_Translation||

    What, if it's a tax, then obeying the mandate calls for deduction. Basically the IRS has to write new rules to address the legality of what SCoTUS just rules.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    The way the legislation was written, the IRS is supposed to collect the penalty/tax - BUT it was only given the authority do so by means of deducting it from the tax refunds of individuals who are due them. It was NOT given the same enforcement powers to collect the penalty/tax as it has to collect the "regular" federal income taxes due.

    This means that people can adusted their witholding allowances and/or estimated tax payments so that they are never due a tax refund. Then if they refuse to pay the penalty/tax, the IRS has no legal means to collect it from them.

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    What I understand as well.

  • ||

    I'm sure that will be fixed post haste.

  • Lost_In_Translation||

    This upholds the fine tradition of saying the government can make you pay for anything but is not expected to provide you with any benefit in return. So basically the SCOTUS is saying "stop fucking lying you dumbshits". Appropriate, if not very impressive. At least the republicans have fire power against the mandate to repeal it based on tax cut theory now.

  • Lord Humungus||

    bye bye Miss American Pie

  • Teaching Student||

    So when I am forced to fork over my hard earned money to an Insurance Company it's a tax? At least they gave up the fucking pretense I guess.

  • sarcasmic||

    If you don't buy insurance then you pay a tax.
    If you buy insurance then you don't have to pay the tax.

    If you don't buy broccoli then you pay a tax.
    If you buy broccoli then you don't have to pay the tax.

    If you don't put solar panels on your house then you pay a tax.
    If you put solar panels on your house then you don't have to pay the tax.

    If you don't live your life as they see fit then you pay a tax.
    If you submit and obey then you don't have to pay the tax.

  • ant1sthenes||

    Wait, can conservatives make a tax contingent on not having gay sex or getting abortions? Whee, what fun the future will be.

  • Ann Cap||

    Maybe Romney and his Republican Congress will impose a tax on registered Democrats.

  • Pip from the forge||

    If we could tax the sum of sarcasmic's comments, we could retire the national debt.

  • R C Dean||

    As I predicted (ahem), Roberts joined the 5 "liberal" justices to prevent Kagan from being exposed as the deciding vote despite her conflict of interest.

    A sad day. My guess:

    They couldn't see a way to overturn it on Commerce Clause grounds without calling their Wickard cases into question. They didn't want to admit that they have royally fucked up the Constitutional scheme of limited enumerated powers by confirming that the Commerce Clause now gives the feds unlimited authority over all things economic.

    So, they pretty much had to uphold as a tax. Even though its not. What a travesty.

    The attempt at face-saving on the Medicaid issue will be completely ignored.

    Prediction: Enraged Republicans vote Holder in contempt.

  • ||

    RC, I would just like to say that argument you and John had a few months back when you were being the devil's advocate.... well John was fucking wrong.... AGAIN!!!

  • R C Dean||

    I haven't read the decision yet, but I wouldn't necessarily go that far. They ruled on an issue that we both laughed off - that its a tax.

    Why they went that way, I couldn't say. We know the four liberal horsemen would going to uphold it on any and all pretexts. The question is why Kennedy, in spite if his statement that OCare would fundamentally change the relationship between the state and its citizens serfs, voted to uphold.

    Once his vote was in the bag, it was just a question of coming up with the pretext that he was willing to sign on to.

  • Spoonman.||

    Kennedy didn't vote to uphold. He said "In our opinion this law is invalid in its entirety."

  • John Thacker||

    You're quite wrong on Kennedy. Kennedy wrote the opinion that would have struck it all down.

  • Emmerson Biggins||

    For Roberts it's pretty obvious, isn't it? He doesn't have to balls to actually get dirty in fighting unlimited government. But he wants to convince himself that he is preserving something other than a mob with unrestricted powers. So a tax was his only real out.

  • Whiterun Guard||

    A little wrong RC.

    Roberts was allowed to join the 'liberal' justices for two reasons:

    1. To cement what the socio-cons consider to be Obama's death knell (he raised your taxes, blah blah blah).
    2. In exchange for the SEIU votes.

    Conservatives feel that they'd be able to repeal this law regardless of SCOTUS' ruling, so they let it go in exchange for the SEIU one which means more to them in swing states.

    No one, especially not SCOTUS gives a crap about the ramifications of the decisions since precedents and the constitution are effectively meaningless.

    The conservatives narrowly control the court and are using it for what matters most to them.

  • Auric Demonocles||

    Roberts didn't join the 5. He was the fifth.

  • Pi Guy||

    "They couldn't see a way to overturn it on Commerce Clause grounds without calling their Wickard cases into question."

    Agreed. Because, if they had to revisit Wickard, the DEA would be done. And those are jobs that would have to be created since they'd not be saved.

  • ||

    So what happens if I refuse to pay the penalty, which I will?

  • dunkel||

    "Justice Roberts has made his decision, now let him enforce it."

    something like that... fuck em all

  • ||

    Say goodbye to your dogs now.

  • LTC John||

    Especially here in Elgin, IL.

  • Raston Bot||

    You will simply have a lien put on your income and assets.

  • ||

    The court reinforces that individuals can simply refuse to pay the tax and not comply with the mandate.

  • ||

    And go to jail...

  • John Thacker||

    No, apparently. Though I'm unclear exactly how this will work, the IRS is apparently barred from using its normal referral to criminal prosecution in this law, a sop added to try to argue that it wasn't a tax, politically.

  • benji||

    Untrue:

    Apologies - you can't refuse to pay the tax; typo. The only effect of not complying with the mandate is that you pay the tax.


    So pay up, the social contract demands it.

  • Montani Semper Liberi||

    I was wondering why my ass hurt when I woke up this morning. I didn't think it would be because SCOTUS raped the country.

  • ||

    I think I'm more pissed off at this than I could have imagined.

    It is a sad day for the world.

  • Joe R.||

    I think it's because of the rationale. I think I'd be pissed, but less pissed, if they'd cited Wickard as precedent.

  • tarran||

    I must say, it's impressive how the Supreme Court trolled everybody.

    It's quite impressive.

  • Ska||

    I kept hearing Never gonna give you up... in my sleep.

  • ||

    Well at least we can take comfort that their power to force us to buy health insurance doesn't derive from he Commerce Clause, right?

    Right?

  • TomD||

    This is the part that doesn't make sense to me. (Not that this means anything -- I'm not a legal expert and, well, I'm me.)

    Wasn't the very nature of the suit premised on Commerce Clause grounds? I.e., by accepting the case in the first place, isn't that the argument the court needed to address one way or the other?

    Today's decision basically seems like: "Meh, we don't feel like giving you an answer one way or another on that Commerce Clause stuff. So here, we'll just frame the mandate's existence like this."

  • John Thacker||

    This did address that. The 4 liberals said the Commerce Clause was okay, but 5 members of the Court said it was not. The official ruling is that the Commerce Clause doesn't extend that far.

    In practical terms, though, that matters little.

    The Administration lawyers did heavily rely on the taxing argument after the court case got real.

  • 0x90||

    From the scotusblog:

    "Amy Howe: The court reinforces that individuals can simply refuse to pay the tax and not comply with the mandate."

    In following with Harry Reid's creative definition of "voluntary" with respect to taxes in the US.

  • R C Dean||

    Unexpected silver lining for Republicans:

    Obama's promise not to raise taxes on the middle class now exposed as a lie.

  • Brett L||

    Another silver lining is that the court does establish that this would violate the Commerce Clause if it wasn't a tax. So, there are some limits on the Commerce Clause, but apparently none on taxation.

  • Lost_In_Translation||

    Basically congress is inhabited by thieves and liars, but that was assumed prior so really nothing changes.

  • 0x90||

    Read: it was a tax before it wasn't a tax, which it then again was.

  • naomib||

    Flippin' Brilliant..RC! Flippin' Brilliant...

    Cost Bush One his reelection..let's hope history repeats itself!

  • Gray Ghost||

    While this is true, no one will care, R.C. There's no way this MSM turns this into a "Read my lips" moment for Obama.

    Just unbelievable. I never thought that Roberts would go along with finding the mandate constitutional. I thought they'd invent a severability clause out of thin air, not the idea that the whole thing was a tax.

    And that a Justice who worked on the damned thing as SG, went ahead and voted on the matter, is such a giant violation of judicial ethics...I don't know what to say.

    This is straight end-of-the-Roman-Republic shit here. Not unprecedented in American history, of course, (Tilden v Hayes I think was a lot worse), but then again the federal government was a whole lot smaller back then.

    We sure are tasting salty ham tears today, aren't we?

  • John Thacker||

    Tilden v. Hayes?

    There's no question that the Republicans invalidated the votes as actually cast there, but there's also no question that the Democrats forcibly prevented blacks from voting.

  • ||

    Thanks a lot for getting my hopes up intrade and reason!

    I remember reading a while back that the mandate would have been constitutional if it had been written as a tax and not a mandate. So maybe this is a way for the court to appear deferential and avoid commerce clause limits while not running totally afoul of constitutional precedent?

  • The Sego Sago Kid||

    At the risk of delving into hyperbole here, why not just revoke the bill of rights entirely? Our supposed betters in DC have already decided that they can force us to do whatever they feel like through threat of violence, so why not go all the way? We could do some North Korea kind of deal where we all have to worship our Dear Leaders or head off the 'reeducation' camps.

  • Whiterun Guard||

    Why bother? That just gets everyone worked up. They have the time and resources to just nickel and dime the masses.

    Something about a frog and warm water.

  • Raven Nation||

    Had a similar thought recently. Was reading a round table by a group of academics about a book on the constitution. Some of them got off on a tangent about "original intent," smugly declared that OI is "bad history" that there really was/is no original intent of the constitution. Well, if that is the case, what is the point in the constitution (, by extension, a BOR)?

  • Joe R.||

    We might as well throw it all out, except for the parts about how we hold elections. That seems to be all we follow.

  • The Sego Sago Kid||

    With our wonderful two party system, it's not like your vote even matters anyway.

  • Raven Nation||

    And that seems like such a hassle for our betters (e.g. David Brooks, Paul Krugman). Maybe we should just do away with elections as well.

  • Emmerson Biggins||

    Why not? because that would be hard.

    They just have to pass a 120% income tax now and give us deductions and tax credits back for good behavior. We'll still totally have all of our rights.

    Of course if you don't do enough good deeds to get back at least 20% of your income, I hope you either have some savings or you are ready to do some jail time for tax evasion.

  • MaxinDC||

    Another nail in the Constitution's coffin.

    What CAN'T the government force you to do, according to the Court?

    I suppose next time GM's in trouble, I'll be forced to buy one of their vehicles "for the good of the country and her citizens."

  • flye||

    No, no, they can't force you to buy a GM vehicle. The court narrowly ruled that sort of thing unconstitutional under the Commerce clause powers.

    But they can tax the shit out of you if you don't. Feel better?

  • thom||

    Well, based on today's decision, it sounds like you'll be forced to pay for one. But you can't be forced to actually take delivery. Freedom!

  • Montani Semper Liberi||

    I wonder what new taxes Obama is thinking of as we speak. Tax for not buying a hybrid, tax for not eating 5 servings of vegetables a day, tax for not buying products made in the US, tax for not buying products made in the US by union labor, tax for .

  • Bam!||

    Seriously. Doesn't this create incredibly bad precedent?

  • benji||

    Nope. If you don't want to buy things for the good of the nation you're a traitor.

  • Aresen||

    From my POV, the bright side is that this means the end of the "Canada is nice but OMG their taxes are SO HIGH!" meme.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Yeah... well, it's still freezing up there.

    Ah, shit.

  • NoTalentAssclown||

    small victory? States can opt out of the Medicaid expansion?

    Another way to think about Medicaid: the Constitution requires that states have a choice about whether to participate in the expansion of eligibility; if they decide not to, they can continue to receive funds for the rest of the program.

  • ||

    So, they can tax anything to control any behavior and pick any winners and losers with the only hold back being the voters not electing them...

    So we've given over to the mob rule completely.

    Fuck. I don't know how I'm going to make it through the day.

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    Drugs and alcohol.

  • flye||

    That's a taxin'.

  • Translucent Chum||

    Hmm. Mandate is unconstitutional, but it doesn't matter...

  • Translucent Chum||

    Amy Howe: The Court holds that the mandate violates the Commerce Clause, but that doesn't matter b/c there are five votes for the mandate to be constitutional under the taxing power.

  • Bee Tagger||

  • Bee Tagger||

    Ugh, Reason broke that link:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rL7ak__MGyw

  • ||

    Well today is the day we discover that SCOTUS opinions are not conducive to Twitter or summary in 140 characters. SCOTUSBlog is fucking up big time.

  • squarooticus||

    This all makes perfect sense if you realize that the Constitution is essentially a Rorschach test today: it means whatever one thinks it means, and the guys and girls in black robes effectively have the final say so it's their opinion that matters, so long as the people acquiesce to that arrangement.

    The actual words of the Constitution are meaningless, and have been for a long time: I'm surprised more of you don't get this.

  • The Rantin Arkansan||

    Yeah ... so ... I think I'm going to go cry. Probably get drunk. Maybe shoot some things. Probably in that order too.

    Why hasn't an armed insurrection happened yet, exactly?

  • Montani Semper Liberi||

    Drink up, we're paying (if you get alcohol poisoning and need to receive medical treatment).

  • ||

    Because crying drunkenly gets in the way of my grouping.

  • NSFW||

    might as well shoot a copy of the constitution.... its already dead anyways

  • ||

    +1. and then a sympathy laugh /sob.

  • Bam!||

    SCOTUS Live:
    Lyle:
    In opening his statement in dissent, Kennedy says: "In our view, the entire Act before us is invalid in its entirety."

  • Raston Bot||

    So it was 5-4, not 6-3. Fucking authoritarian Roberts.

  • thom||

    Roberts didn't want to overturn a major act of Congress on a 5-4 split, I'm guessing.

  • ||

    So glad to know that supporters of the COnstitution can count on Kennedy (!?)

  • Srynerson||

    Hey, at least the Stolen Valor Act was struck down....

  • LTC John||

    Wheee - you can lie about having eleventy billion Crois de Guerre and a bucket of MoH's - but we can be compelled to do anything Kongress wants to make us do/not do/sort of do. Maybe there will be a bill taxing lying about having US military medals - apparently that woudl fly with the SCT.

  • Bam!||

    Amy Howe:
    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.

  • Raston Bot||

    Okay, so does this mean that I can now stop paying my premium (which is substantial), pay the tax, and enroll whenever I get catastrophically unhealthy? B/c that would save me a fair chunk of change.

    And fuck it. If that's the system we're in, play it.

  • Auric Demonocles||

    Basically, yes. Though it doesn't all go into effect immediately, so I'm not sure when you'd be best off to do it.

  • Mensan||

    Yes, that is exactly what it means, and once it goes into effect in 2014 (if it's not repealed), that's exactly what I'm going to do.

  • freeAgent||

  • robc||

    Kennedy wrote the dissent saying entire Act is unconstitutional.

    Some commentary above is wrong.

  • Viktor||

    I haven't felt this much anger in a very long time. I just feel like cursing up a storm, but I won't. What's upsetting is that both sides have no leg to stand on when it comes to removing the mandate. One won't do it and the other one did it in his state.

  • Bam!||

    If Obama wants to win, all he has to do is suppress Republican turn out for Romney and maintain Democrat turn out. How? Hang RomneyCare around his neck. "Angry at me for ObamaCare? It was his idea!"

  • Viktor||

    Regardless of who wins between those two we are still screwed. Romney set up the foundation and Obama established the framework. The supreme court just gave precedent to future law makers to consider a mandate as a simple tax. Regardless of who wins we all know it will be the same. The media played it very well keeping Romney ahead of the Republican Primaries.

  • Cytotoxic||

    That won't work. The hate is beyond that.

  • Brandon Magoon||

    And that's another pretty good reason to vote for Gary Johnson.

  • robc||

    Anyone who has ever argued back in 2000 that someone should vote for Bush for Surpreme Court Justice reasons can go fuck themselves.

    Fuck you Bush, this is your fault for appointing Roberts. Fuck you.

  • benji||

    This makes it even more important to vote for Romney this year!

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    Romney has just as much principal as Bush.

  • 0x90||

    No, it's the people's fault, for not writing-in "NO CONFIDENCE" on their ballots. Live by the team, die by the team.

  • ||

    Fuck you Bush, this is your fault for appointing Roberts. Fuck you.

    Anger is granted and completely understood, but when the chips fell to Roberts, he alone is the one that blew it. Maybe he wasn't "in the bag" like Thomas, but there's no way of saying someone else appointed by Bush wouldn't have voted the same way. Congress steamrolled the legislation through and voted in the 11th hour despite only 2 or 3 people having read the thing, then Obama signed it and claimed it wasn't about taxes (but it really was!), and now John Roberts has cemented a horrible precedent in the legal annals.

    That is where your blame should lie.

  • NoVAHockey||

  • Aresen||

    The most painfull thing about this is the amount of Liberal Smug we will have to endure for the next few weeks.

  • robc||

    Just call Obama a "middle class tax raising liar" every time they get smug.

  • Emmerson Biggins||

    uhh, they don't care if he raises taxes. Also they don't care if he lies. So that's not much of a come back.

    I say stick with calling him a Keynesian, and then laugh when they respond with "But he showed us the Birth Certificate!"

  • Gray Ghost||

    uhh, they don't care if he raises taxes. Also they don't care if he lies.

    This, pretty much. Since when has Team Blue cracked a guy for breaking a promise to raise taxes? Assuming that meme ever gets traction in this MSM in the first place. Again, you've probability zero of turning this into a, "Read My Lips," moment for Obama.

    OTOH, I think you've just given Team Red a shot in the arm for getting out the vote. Especially if Romney admits that ChowdCare was a terrible idea in the first place, and he now sees that he was wrong for implementing it. (It'll never happen---think tarran hit it on the head w/respect to Romney and the civil service, never mind the career pol's antipathy to ever admitting error---but it's nice to dream.) It's a close enough race that I think this decision, with the outrage over it properly banked and stoked, gives Team Red the win in November.

  • ||

    I dunno, just about all the liberals were wrong about the magical Commerce Clause being the key to the law's constitutionality. This was very, very, very close according to the dissents.

  • Spoonman.||

    I know, I can't bear the thought of seeing my father-in-law now.

  • ||

    Seconded.

  • sloopyinca||

    I move that we never, ever capitalize the acronym "scotus" again. They have ceded their power, thus they don't deserve capitalization.

  • Mike M.||

    As far I'm concerned, they're not scotus, they're scrotus!

  • ||

    Seconded. Fucking travesty.

  • ||

    Nazgul.... Remember?

  • ||

    I'm not sure how this at all undermines the Broccoli argument.

    DO THIS OR WE WILL TAX YOU.

    SCOTUS just gave Congress unlimited power, just not through the Commerce Clause.

    They have still shredded Enumerated Powers.

    This is exactly what the Anti-Federalists predicted 240 years ago.

    Fuck it. I'm taking my Scooby-Doo lunchbox and going home.

  • DJK||

    It doesn't undermine the broccoli argument at all. It just happens that the taxation clause is written much more loosely than the commerce clause. So it's easier to expand federal power in that manner.

  • db||

    So, the government cannot force you to buy broccoli, but it can penalize you by taxation for not buying broccoli. You have a choice!

  • benji||

    You can either betray America or you can buy your broccoli.

  • Bam!||

    My only hope is this will reignite interest in true limited government conservationism.... Because really, the citizenry is the only check on the governments power now.

  • ||

    A choice made where one outcome is undesirable and the other is threat of force is NO choice.

  • robc||

    No, they can give you a tax break for buying broccoli.

    If they had just written the law as "we will raise your taxes by $x per year and give you a $x per year health care tax break" then this whole argument wouldnt have happened. And, of course, it wouldnt have passed either.

  • db||

    That's why they argued so hard that is wasn't a tax. The irony is that SCOTUS found a way to save Obamacare by rejecting its proponent's arguments.

  • robc||

    It isnt irony, its fucking idiocy. Roberts should have said "Fuck you, you didnt call it a tax, it aint a fuckin' tax."

    And I put quotes around it for a reason, that should have been the entirety of his dissent.

  • squarooticus||

    Exactly right. This is my analysis, as well.

  • ||

    Well I predict that the IRS is going to be quite busy. There are a lot people out there that are going to readjust their w-4's and other shenanigans to get out of paying the penatly/tax whatever-the-fuck-it-is. Or simply not file federal income taxes at all.

  • Gray Ghost||

    Majority opinion on O'Care here.

  • Gray Ghost||

    Or, you could just go to NoVA Hockey's link above.

  • Nephilium||

  • Lord Humungus||

    fuck this with a stick.

  • flye||

    You are not allowed to fuck things with sticks. That's a taxin'.

  • db||

    Dow's down 70 points since the ruling was announced, 154 down from yesterday's close.

  • Andrew S.||

    I'm not sure why. I'd be buying up healthcare/pharma stocks if I had any money.

  • Raston Bot||

    Because companies are going to drop their plans to pay the penalty to the govt. Same with individuals.

  • NoVAHockey||

    wait -- if it's a tax, how can they set aside the anti-injuction aspect

  • Gray Ghost||

    From the Syllabus of the majority opinion: The Anti-Injunction Act provides that "no suit for the purpose of restraining the assessment or collection of any tax shall be maintained in any court by any person," 26 U. S. C. §7421(a), so that those subject to a tax must first pay it and then sue for a refund. The present challenge seeks to restrain the collection of the shared responsibility payment from those who do not comply with the individual mandate. But Congress did not intend the payment to be treated as a 'tax' for purposes of the Anti-Injunction Act. The Affordable Care Act describes the payment as a 'penalty,' not a 'tax.' That label cannot control whether the payment is a tax for purposes of the Constitution, but it does determine the application of the Anti-Injunction Act. The Anti-Injunction Act therefore does not bar this suit.

    So, it's a tax when we want it to be, but it isn't a tax when we don't want it to be. Lewis Carroll would've thought this was horseshit.

  • Gray Ghost||

    If I had tried that "it's not a tax, it's a penalty" argument in moot court, I'd have been laughed out of the building. And then given an F. I can't overstate just how bad, how poorly written and reasoned, this opinion looks at first reading.

    Don't these robed dumb-fucks understand that all that they have is their believability? That when they lose that, they lose their legitimacy, and then their power?

  • LTC John||

    I am glad I am retiring this Sunday - I cannot any longer "support and defend the Constitution of the United States" if this is what it allows...per the Nazgul.

  • ||

    Good call on your part.

  • James Ard||

    Will congress ever again call a tax a tax? Why would they?

  • LTC John||

    Because the Nazgul say you can do ANYTHING if you call it a "tax".

  • Raston Bot||

    Yeah, but I think James' point was that Congress will interpret anything they pass as a tax so why bother catching flack from your voters over a word.

  • 0x90||

    This being a tax, then, I assume that if you are not required to file, you are not liable. That being difficult to accomplish while also remaining alive, I wonder where in your filing the liability occurs.

  • freeAgent||

    Indeed. How will Obamacare deal with those with incomes below the filing threshold?

  • Lord Humungus||

    of course the joke is ultimately on the government: Obamacare, much like the other welfare state goodies, isn't fiscally tenable in the long run.

  • T o n y||

    Is it a welfare state goody or is it a mandate to buy private insurance?

  • Lord Humungus||

    fuck you.

  • ||

    $

  • Montani Semper Liberi||

    Of course, the "tax/mandate" will only work if it's more the cost of not buying insurance. How much does insurance cost a young person just out of college? I'm thinking probably several thousand. I'm sure someone graduating with thousands in school loans is going to love being forced to pay thousands of dollars to either the govt or an insurance company to stay out of prison. Of course, knowing what passes for critical thinking among many college students these days, none of them will figure out they are getting fucked.

  • Raston Bot||

    Not them, their parents will pay the tax or face the lien.

  • ||

    I'm a slave.

  • robc||

    We all are.

  • db||

    When you go expat, please, please write a letter to major media outlets explaining this is why you left.

  • Gray Ghost||

    It's going to get worse, Groovus. (Though not for you, in UKR. Bastard.)

    Can't you see price caps coming---whether or not the patient has private insurance or not---as well as mandates to treat Medicare/Medicaid patients, in exchange for your state license to practice? I can.

    I wonder how long it'll be before doctors are exclusively Gov't employees?

  • Mensan||

    Me too.

  • ||

    Tomorrow President Obama will announce that if elected he will propose a $35,000 tax on all Americans with a $35,000 tax deduction if they buy a hybrid car.

    First Lady Michelle Obama is also proposing to levy a substantial tax on candy companies with a tax deduction should they limit their proudct sizes to 4 ounces.

  • robc||

    They did this decades ago with housing purchases.

  • freeAgent||

    It's good for you and the environment, so shut up! We have the law on our side!

  • Robert S||

    Don't be absurd. It won't be tomorrow, he'll announce it after the election, when he has more flexibility.

  • robc||

    Anyone know how this will work? Since there is no mandate to comply with, I can buy whatever insurance I want. If my insurance doesnt meet their standards or is too cheap, do I have to pay the whole tax or just part of it?

  • benji||

    Please wait for HHS regulations.

  • freeAgent||

    Insurance that doesn't meet mandated requirements does not count as health insurance. You must buy an Obama-approved plan.

  • NoVAHockey||

    "f my insurance doesnt meet their standards or is too cheap"

    it won't be offered on the gov. exchanges and you won't be able to buy it. such a product will not exist.

  • Mensan||

    It will be illegal for insurers to sell you a policy that doesn't meet government standards or is too cheap.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Well, now we're well and fucked. Even if a GOP president and Congress strike down this law, the precedent is set.

  • Matrix||

    So they can't force us to buy anything, but they can tax us if we refuse... fucking bullshit!

  • Raston Bot||

    From the dissent:

    That clear principle carries the day here. The striking case of Wickard v. Filburn, 317 U. S. 111 (1942), whichheld that the economic activity of growing wheat, even for one’s own consumption, affected commerce sufficientlythat it could be regulated, always has been regarded as the ne plus ultra of expansive Commerce Clause jurisprudence. To go beyond that, and to say the failure to grow wheat (which is not an economic activity, or any activityat all) nonetheless affects commerce and therefore can be federally regulated, is to make mere breathing in and out the basis for federal prescription and to extend federal power to virtually all human activity.

  • Ranter||

    The dissent in this case is 1000% correct.
    The majority in this case - and Roberts' loathsome agreement is embarrassing to everything that stands as a limit to overreaching government authority.

    To live in a country based on the idea of no taxation w/o representation and see this kind of crushing authority just makes me hate the government more than I thought was already possible.

  • Bright Bulb||

    Time to find a new country to live in.

  • Pip from the forge||

    Canadians claim to like their socialism, they speak English (mostly) and it's close by. I hear Manitoba is nice this time of year.

  • Bright Bulb||

    Canada would be just as bad.

  • Pip from the forge||

    Somalia, then. I hear it's a libertarian paradise.

  • ||

    Die in a fire Pip.

    (Unless this is sarcasm, then cheers)

  • 0x90||

    Another interesting aspect: this essentially makes the availability of healthcare via insurance contingent upon good standing with respect to the filing of federal income tax. Say that you are uninsured, have not filed for the prior two years, and experience an unexpected medical condition in need of immediate treatment. In theory, you cannot be denied access to insurance, but how does that shake out in this situation? You would find it difficult to obtain, for example, a mortgage refinance, due to lack of up-to-date tax records. Can you obtain last-minute health insurance, or do you, as they say, die in the streets?

  • T o n y||

    You guys should like Obamacare as the pro-market solution to a mass lack of health coverage. It's not like you have any real solution. Certainly John Stossel hasn't offered it.

    I think a more direct single-payer route would be better. Not happy with the mandate as policy but glad the Court didn't decide to impose a new restriction on Congress's taxing powers to appease Tea Party morons.

    I always said it was just a tax. Haven't decided yet if I like the interpretation of the Commerce Clause, but I'll probably just agree with Ginsburg.

  • Matrix||

    forcing people to buy shit or pay a tax is not free market. What the fuck is your GD problem, troll?

  • T o n y||

    A free market is a fairy tale. I said pro-market. The mandate was a demand of the insurance lobby and the idea originated in conservative think tanks.

    My point is it's the most private-sector-oriented approach to universal coverage you can get.

    I get that you guys don't care about universal coverage.

  • Spoonman.||

    Yes, we always love massive giveaways to corporations allied with the Total State.

    You fucking moron.

  • Spoonman.||

    I apologize for feeding the troll.

  • T o n y||

    No you just hold the most untenable position of all: let healthcare be a privilege of the wealthy.

  • Cytotoxic||

    Please stop using words you don't understand.

  • ||

    One of these days Tiny....
    And it looks like that day is close.

  • Spoonman.||

    Oddly my two health care stocks, BMY and CRY, are down 1 and 4.3 percent, respectively.

  • robc||

    Thomas's extra dissent was boring. Disappointed. He didnt go on a Raich induced rampage.

  • ||

    Did he address the crater that the Taxing Power just created relative to Enumerated Powers?

  • Raston Bot||

    bummer. i was hoping for some grass fed red meat tucked in there. maybe once he found out Roberts was a turncoat he lost his mojo.

  • ||

    So now we must wait till the law falls flat on its face due to the sheer impossibility of implementing it? Or Romneybot repeals it? Not looking good.

  • Spoonman.||

    I forgot about it being impossible to implement. That cheers me up.

  • Nephilium||

    The other fucking part of this that's a scam is that the Justices said that the mandate was not a tax for the Anti-Injunction Act portion of the decision, then flipped around and said it was a tax for finding the mandate "constitutional".

  • Jerry on the road||

    So congress never has to pass another tax-raising law. Just let the SC write the taxation part.

  • robc||

    Footnote 11 on page 44:

    Those subject to the individual mandate may lawfully
    forgo health insurance and pay higher taxes, or buy health insurance
    and pay lower taxes. The only thing they may not lawfully do is not
    buy health insurance and not pay the resulting tax.

  • Raston Bot||

    I wish AnonBot were here. He'd know what to say...

    Wow, that really lowers the bar when you think about it, wow.

  • sloopyinca||

    Read something positive IRT the courts. Hopefully this will catch on.

  • ||

    That is mildly comforting. But it's like my arm stopped throbbing in pain after I just got hit by a car... the rest of me is still sore as fuck

  • robc||

    Entire Thomas dissent:

    I dissent for the reasons stated in our joint opinion, but
    I write separately to say a word about the Commerce
    Clause. The joint dissent and THE CHIEF JUSTICE cor-
    rectly apply our precedents to conclude that the Individual
    Mandate is beyond the power granted to Congress un-
    der the Commerce Clause and the Necessary and Proper
    Clause. Under those precedents, Congress may regulate
    “economic activity [that] substantially affects interstate
    commerce.” United States v. Lopez, 514 U. S. 549, 560
    (1995). I adhere to my view that “the very notion of a ‘substantial effects’ test under the Commerce Clause is inconsistent with the original understanding of Congress’
    powers and with this Court’s early Commerce Clause
    cases.” United States v. Morrison, 529 U. S. 598, 627
    (2000) (THOMAS, J., concurring); see also Lopez, supra, at
    584–602 (THOMAS, J., concurring); Gonzales v. Raich, 545
    U. S. 1, 67–69 (2005) (THOMAS, J., dissenting). As I have
    explained, the Court’s continued use of that test “has
    encouraged the Federal Government to persist in its view
    that the Commerce Clause has virtually no limits.” Morri-
    son, supra, at 627. The Government’s unprecedented
    claim in this suit that it may regulate not only economic
    activity but also inactivity that substantially affects inter-
    state commerce is a case in point.

  • ||

    But Clarence, doesn't the 1937 re-interpretation of General Welfare blow open the same hole in Enumerated Powers? Doesn't this decision affirm that there are no limits, it's just a matter of what terminology you use to craft the legislation?

  • Proprietist||

    I'm as virulently anti-Obamacare as anyone here, but I can sort of understand why the Court upheld it as a tax.

    At any time, anyone can get sick or into an accident. Many of those without insurance who go to the hospital end up ignoring their medical bills and often that burden gets either shifted to the taxpayer or turned into medical care price inflation.

    Without any socialized care, this wouldn't be a problem. These people without insurance would just die on the street while the monocled insured class roll by into the hospital our wheelchairs laughing at them and saying sarcastic things like "Maybe you should try Chinese herbal medicine or change to a vegan miracle diet or something. Enjoy being a precautionary example to others." Of course, shutting down public hospitals and removing mandates on private hospitals to treat all comers probably will never happen.

    If I were the Republicans, I'd attempt to pass a law exempting individuals from both the mandate and the tax who sign an agreement that all medical expenses will be exempt from any future bankruptcy filings - and that the individual will have some means to pay these costs (like buying catastrophic insurance that doesn't meet the mandate and paying the rest out of pocket).

  • robc||

    Your 2nd and 3rd paragraphs have nothing to do with the constitution.

    My argument is this: the law in no way declares itself to be a tax, thus it isnt one.

  • Auric Demonocles||

    That argument is too simple. Dress it up to a few thousand pages and then we'll talk.

  • robc||

    Fuck that shit.

    When did the size of opinions get so out of control? Go back to even the early 20th century and the whole thing will be like 2-3 pages max.

  • Proprietist||

    I'm aware they have nothing to do directly with the Constitution. But if government-provided/subsidized healthcare is not unconstitutional under the precepts of the general welfare clause, adding a tax on free riders shifts these costs back to the individuals taking advantage of the system instead of placing the burden on the rest of the taxpayers. Someone's going to pay more taxes for those costs...

  • SugarFree||

    It's a $100 Band-aid for a $1 bullet wound. And Congress fired the gun in first place.

    And since when did liberals ever worry about free-loading? Free-loaders are 90% of their base; supporting free-loaders 90% of their platform.

  • Proprietist||

    I agree that Obamacare pretty much took everything bad and inefficient about the modern healthcare system and made it worse.

    But as Roberts said, the SC is not there to judge the wisdom or efficiency of the law. I could understand (and disagree with) Roberts' consideration of a penalty against potential free-loaders of government-provided care as a tax. Government creates all sorts of perverse incentives and disincentives through the tax system that are upheld as legitimate under the taxation powers.

  • ||

    No, it's supposed to judge whether or not a law is constitutional and even under a taxing scheme this shit should have gone down in flames.

  • Ranter||

    Two problems with that - (avoiding the whole, more important Constitutional aspect):

    1- the reason most healthcare coverage/hospital care is so out of whack is precisely due to the medicare/medicaid subsidization and the forced-treatment legality. All of that has been unnecessarily forced on what should still be a private market commodity. By forcing them to treat anyone, and pumping federal money into the system it's raised costs and guaranteed steady, ballooning subsidies.

    2- These people who dont give a shit about their care, and constantly run up treatment costs are most likely not going to be making huge salaries. And when their shitty frycook job salary can't pay off the tax/penalty/whatever, we're just going to end up paying for them anyway.

    All this law does is lower the bar even further by making something "free" and then paying out far, far more than it can ever hope to recoup.

    We're fucked.

  • robc||

    Im going to tell a bunch of GOP wingnuts to go fuck themselves.

    After this passed and then the 2010 elections occurred, I wanted the GOP majority in the House to attach a repeal to EVERY SINGLE PIECE OF LEGISLATION. These wingnuts told me that this was a bad idea because scotus would take care of the law.

  • Raston Bot||

    Dissent, page 7:

    If the industry does not respond by increasing premiums, it is not likely to survive.

  • sloopyinca||

    I know the scotus Nazgul ruling is infuriating, but I'm just gonna go ahead and punch you in the nuts to make your day completely awful.

  • ||

    Fuck you sloopy. Damn it.

  • Apostate Jew||

    It's funny because it's true. The mandate is a tax by any other name.

    Just like deductions and credits are taxes on those unable or unwilling to take them - like the home mortgage interest deduction AKA the "tax on renters and others who refuse the incentive to borrow money to buy a house" and the child tax credit AKA the "tax on those who cannot or refuse to increase the population".

    Get over it.

  • DoubleIPA||

    I've lost any hope for our judicial system and government. At this point you will be more free and less burdened in other countries.

    Liberals our successfully destroying a great country in the name of socialism. They are the antithesis of freedom loving American. They're so easy to spot because they're bitter, angry and nothing ever makes them happy except the misery of others.

  • Pi Guy||

    Stocking up on tobacco an Big Macs right now.

    Also, might be time to go long on Big Hospital.

  • LibertyWolf||

    I would say the Anti-Federalists are spinning in their graves right now, but I think at this point they would just be shrugging their shoulders and saying "We tried to tell you guys." If the Constitution is such a vague document that the scrotus can use it to justify anything being done through the power of taxation, then it really shouldn't be used as an example of liberty.

  • T o n y||

    The constitution is not all that vague about Congress's power to tax.

  • LibertyWolf||

    So, there's a clause stating that any action the state wishes you to perform or item they wish to you purchase is ok as long as if don't perform the action or purchase the item you get taxed on it?

  • ||

    There's not, but Tony wished it really hard and the Nazgul shat it out for him.

  • Paul.||

    The constitution is not all that vague about Congress's power to tax.

    Had Congress actually passed a tax, then I would agree with your logic.

  • Bee Tagger||

    It's days like today that I'm glad I don't talk to many people nor have a lot of friends on facebook and the ones that I do rarely discuss politics or aren't liberal.

    Long-term I'll hate Obamacare more than dealing with people who love this turn of events, but not short-term.

  • JSebastian||

    Its official, guys. We must overthrow the federal government by force since there is no recourse from abuse.

  • db||

    Violence is not the solution to this, asshole.

  • ||

    To summarize the SCOTUS O'care opinion: 1) the penalty/mandate would be unconstitutional (violates Commerce Clause) by itself; 2) but the penalty functions similarly to a tax (though far from identically); 3) taxing powers constitutionally valid for Congress; 4) tax cases can't be heard by the SCOTUS until the tax is levied, per the Anti-Injunction Act; 5) but since they didn't call it a tax in the legislation, it's okay to rule on it before the penalty is assessed.

    So, it looks like a tax and quacks like a tax; ergo, it's a tax- except that it can be ruled on, even though being the kind of thing that could be ruled on would make the legislation unconstitutional.

    Glad they cleared that up.

  • Ramjet||

    It was a grand experiment while it lasted. The slippery slope has now become a gaping chasm.

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