A divided U.S. Supreme Court today largely upheld the Obama administration's signature health care reform law, a big win for the White House and Democrats in Congress.
Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. delivered the key vote, joining the 5-4 majority in upholding the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act's key provision, the so-called individual mandate, which requires Americans to purchase health insurance or pay a penalty. The high court's opinion is here.
Roberts narrowly interpreted the mandate, saying that "upholding the individual mandate under the Taxing Clause thus does not recognize any new federal power. It determines that Congress has used an existing one."
"The Affordable Care Act’s requirement that certain individuals pay a financial penalty for not obtaining health insurance may reasonably be characterized as a tax," Robert said. "Because the Constitution permits such a tax, it is not our role to forbid it, or to pass upon its wisdom or fairness."
Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan joined Roberts for part of his ruling.
Justices Samuel Alito Jr., Anthony Kennedy, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas said the Affordable Care Act should have been deemed unconstitutional.
"The Act before us here exceeds federal power both in mandating the purchase of health insurance and in denying nonconsenting States all Medicaid funding," the four justices said in their dissent. "These parts of the Act are central to its design and operation, and all the Act’s other provisions would not have been enacted without them."
Stay tuned to the BLT and our health care hub page throughout the day as we dig through the opinion and gather reaction.