Today, the Supremes sang.
To the surprise of many, they upheld the individual mandate requiring that most Americans buy insurance–or face a modest penalty. The vote was 5-4 with Chief Justice Roberts joining the majority. The court overturned just one small part of the legislation. Under the Affordable Care Act, the federal government is offering states funding to expand their Medicaid programs. Washington had threatened to withhold all Medicaid funding if a state refused to participate in the expansion. The Court ruled that the federal government cannot penalize the states in that way.
I was not entirely surprised by the Court’s decision. Indeed, on March 26, the day that the Supreme Court began to hear oral arguments, I wrote:
“For months, the media has been feasting on the story, calling it “The Case That Could Change Health Care Forever.”
“Yesterday, the Baltimore Sun declared that ‘The most important six hours of recent American history will start to unfold on Monday.’
“No question, the story is sizzling. And I hate to be a wet blanket. But let me suggest that the hullaballoo is totally unwarranted.
Why the law won’t be overturned
“I cannot believe for a minute that this Court wants to go down in history as the Gang of Nine that quashed the most important piece of legislation that Congress has passed in 47 years. If it did, we could find ourselves on the brink of a constitutional crisis. It is simply not up to the Supreme Court to rewrite legislation passed by Congress.”