President Obama’s major victory before the U.S. Supreme Court on his sweeping health care law could dramatically boost his re-election this fall.
The major overhaul was the cornerstone achievement of his first term in office.
The high court ruled by a close 5-4 vote, with conservative Chief Justice John Roberts casting the deciding vote, that a key part of the law, an “individual mandate” that requires individuals to have health insurance was constitutional.
The court also signaled that it was appropriate for Congress to be the decision-making body on the issue, not the court. Congress, it said has the authority to impose fines for failing to get health insurance because fines are tantamount to a tax, which is well within its authority.
“Because the Constitution permits such a tax, it is not our role to forbid it, or to pass upon its wisdom or fairness,” Roberts said writing for the majority in the ruling.
Oddly, the president insisted it wasn’t a tax when he proposed the measure. That should at least give conservatives some fodder to use against the president.
“For us to say that you’ve got to take a responsibility to get health insurance is absolutely not a tax increase. What it’s saying is, is that we’re not going to have other people carrying your burdens for you anymore than the fact that right now everybody in America, just about, has to get auto insurance. Nobody considers that a tax increase,” he told ABC news during the debate over the law.
Conservative justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito opposed the law and Justice Anthony Kennedy sided with them. Roberts, a George W. Bush appointee, aligned himself with liberal justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan.
“Victory for the American people! Millions of American families and children will have certainty of health care benefits + affordable care,” tweeted House minority leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif).