Supreme Court Health Care

The Supreme Court of the United States decided 5-4 to uphold the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.  The lynchpin of their decision surrounding the individual mandate which was the most likely aspect to be overturned is that while Congress doesn’t have the authority to make people purchase health insurance under the commerce clause, but they do have the authority to tax people.  Essentially the real disturbing fallout from this ruling is that there is now precedent that Congress apparently now has the authority to tax anything.  Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the majority opinion, some key text from the summary:

The Constitution grants Congress the power to “regulate Commerce.” Art. I, §8, cl. 3 (emphasis added). The power to regulate commerce presupposes the existence of commercial activity to be regulated. This Court’s precedent reflects this understanding: As expansive as this Court’s cases construing the scope of the commerce  power have been, they uniformly describe the power as reaching “activity.” E.g., United States v. Lopez, 514 U. S. 549, 560. The individual mandate, however, does not regulate existing commercial activity. It instead compels individuals to become active in commerce by purchasing a product, on the ground that their failure to do so affects interstate commerce.

Construing the Commerce Clause to permit Congress to regulate individuals precisely because they are doing nothing would open a new and potentially vast domain to congressional authority. Congress already possesses expansive power to regulate what people do. Upholding the Affordable Care Act under the Commerce Clause would give Congress the same license to regulate what people do not do. The Framers knew the difference between doing something and doing nothing. They gave Congress the power to regulate commerce, not to compel it…

…The payment is not so high that there is really no choice but to buy health insurance; the payment is not limited to willful violations, as penalties for unlawful acts often are; and the payment is collected solely by the IRS through the normal means of taxation. Cf. Bailey v. Drexel Furniture Co., 259 U. S. 20, 36–37. None of this is to say that payment is not intended to induce the purchase of health insurance. But the mandate need not be read to declare that failing to do so is unlawful. Neither the Affordable Care Act nor any other law attaches negative legal consequences to not buying health insurance, beyond requiring a payment to the IRS. And Congress’s choice of language—stating that individuals “shall” obtain insurance or pay a “penalty”—does not require reading §5000A as punishing unlawful conduct. It may also be read as imposing a tax on those who go without insurance.

Obviously I’m shocked.  I thought for certain that the individual mandate at the very least would be struck down.  This makes November even more important than it already was.

Some Republican and conservative reactions.  Statements from Iowa Governor Terry Branstad:

Today, the Supreme Court handed down a disastrous decision to uphold President Obama’s destructive health care law, which means a future of higher costs, higher taxes, and increasing debt for Iowans.  The current health care system is nothing but a federal takeover and continues to exceed its budgeted amount every day.  But, as Governor Romney has said many times, no matter what may happen in Court, the American people must remain vigilant in their fight to repeal the law. Our goal is for Iowa to become the healthiest state in the country and to do so Iowans will need to take ownership of their own health to reduce health care costs and lead healthier lives.

Iowa Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds added:

America needs real health care reform and we need Governor Romney in Washington. Gov. Romney will enact real reforms to ensure that the future of Iowa and America as a whole can replace Obamacare with solutions that put Iowans in control of their own health care and preserve the economic future of Iowa’s next generation.

I don’t hold the same confidence in Governor Mitt Romney as they do, but we’ll see.  Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) weighed in:

Today’s ruling underscores the urgency of repealing this harmful law in its entirety. “What Americans want is a common-sense, step-by-step approach to health care reform that will protect Americans’ access to the care they need, from the doctor they choose, at a lower cost.  Republicans stand ready to work with a president who will listen to the people and will not repeat the mistakes that gave our country ObamaCare.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said:

Today’s decision makes one thing clear: Congress must act to repeal this misguided law. Obamacare has not only limited choices and increased health care costs for American families, it has made it harder for American businesses to hire. Today’s decision does nothing to diminish the fact that Obamacare’s mandates, tax hikes, and Medicare cuts should be repealed and replaced with common sense reforms that lower costs and that the American people actually want. It is my hope that with new leadership in the White House and Senate, we can enact these step-by-step solutions and prevent further damage from this terrible law.

The junior Senator from Kentucky, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), also issued a statement:

Just because a couple people on the Supreme Court declare something to be ‘constitutional’ does not make it so. The whole thing remains unconstitutional. While the court may have erroneously come to the conclusion that the law is allowable, it certainly does nothing to make this mandate or government takeover of our health care right.

Obamacare is wrong for Americans. It will destroy our health care system. This now means we fight every hour, every day until November to elect a new President and a new Senate to repeal Obamacare.

Charmaine Yoest of Americans United for Life issued a statement focused on the impact this decision has on federal funding for abortions:

The Affordable Care Act forces an abortion agenda on the American people unlike anything seen since Roe v. Wade. Despite clear and continuing public opposition, President Obama’s healthcare law contains numerous anti-life provisions and mandates. Congress must repeal these provisions and ensure that any healthcare law respects life.

Congressman Tom Price (R-GA), chairman of the Republican Policy committee who is also an orthopedic surgeon, wrote:

Today’s ruling by the Supreme Court has set a dangerous precedent by allowing this administration to continue pursuing its unbridled effort to erode personal freedom and undo the principles upon which this country was founded,” said Chairman Price.  “President Obama’s health care law trumps personal health care choices in exchange for a more powerful Washington.  It will force American citizens to endure diminished quality of care, increased insurance costs, health care rationing and excessive taxation brought on by an overzealous Washington bureaucracy.  We have no choice but to exercise every possible legislative option to repeal this disastrous law, and the American people should know that House Republicans will continue to advocate on their behalf to restore personal control over health care decisions.

Since the beginning of this debate, Republicans have developed and promoted positive solutions that empower individuals and families to choose the health care coverage they want.  We have done so because it is obvious the status quo in America’s health care system is broken and in need of reform.  Our solutions would preserve the sacred doctor-patient relationship and keep unelected bureaucrats from denying access to care.  Most importantly, these measures would expand access, address costs, assure quality and encourage innovation all without putting the government in control or imposing mandates.

I’ll update as I receive more reactions.

Below is a copy of the ruling for you to read for yourself.

SCOTUS Health Care Reform Decision

Update 1:

Additional reaction from Marjorie Dannenfelser from Susan B. Anthony List:

From the outset, Obamacare is fundamentally flawed legislation because it makes American taxpayers complicit in the deaths of countless unborn children.  Today’s decision to uphold the individual mandate to force individuals to purchase health care plans that offend their conscience is incredibly disappointing.

Over the last four years, President Obama has revealed his loyalty to the abortion industry. At no time was this clearer than during the health care reform debate, when he fought tenaciously for the largest expansion of taxpayer funding of abortion on demand since Roe v. Wade. As the presidential race heats up, the Susan B. Anthony List will continue to remind American voters where the President’s allegiance truly lies. We will not stop fighting until every U.S. taxpayer is freed from under-writing the abortion business.

Former Governor Mike Huckabee wrote:

The Supreme Court essentially just declared that Congress and the President can force upon the American people anything they want and call it a tax, we have to make sure that our Congress and the White House are in the RIGHT hands.

So it’s come to this: the only way we will repeal Obamacare is to elect Mitt Romney, regain the Senate Majority and maintain control of the House.

Update 2:

Former Presidential Candidate Rick Santorum comments on the ruling:

Today’s outcome is the worst of all scenarios. Not only are our rights being taken away and Americans are being forced to do something we don’t want to do, but now we are being burdened with the biggest permanent tax increase in our nation’s history. This is a sad day.

I believe so strongly that if we do not defeat President Obama this November and elect more conservatives in the House and Senate, our country’s future prosperity is at risk. We saw the absolute disregard President Obama showed for the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Arizona immigration law, that I have no doubt that he sees today’s ruling in his favor as a mandate that he can now do whatever he chooses by any means possible.

President Obama believes he is above the law, entitled to abusing his power to get what he wants, and willing to violate the constitution and the oath he was sworn to uphold. He has proven to be a very dangerous person to have this kind of power, and if he is not stopped this November, I am fearful that the make-up of this country as established by our founders will never be the same.

Update 3:

A.J. Spiker, chairman of the Republican Party of Iowa, issued a statement:

President Obama clearly lied to the American people when he promised not to raise taxes on middle class Americans. Obamacare not only raises taxes on every single Iowan, but also guarantees higher health care costs and deficits in perpetuity. The winners today are big corporate health insurance companies who lobbied vigorously for this law and government bureaucrats, while patients have lost control over their personal heath care decisions.

The Supreme Court’s decision today is a set back for believers of individual liberty and smaller government all across Iowa, but rest assured this will only energize us even further. The Republican Party of Iowa will be working tirelessly to send Mitt Romney to the White House along with a full Republican delegation to Congress in order to repeal Obamacare in its entirety and replace it with meaningful market-driven reforms that will reduce costs, protect patients and increase quality of care.

Congressman Steve King (R-IA) says the fate of Obamacare is not yet set.

Leading up to today, the lower courts were split on a handful of issues," said King. "One issue they were nearly unanimous on was that the individual mandate was not a tax therefore could not be upheld under Congress’s power to tax. Today the Supreme Court disagrees with the vast majority of lower court decisions and contradicts President Obama himself, who vehemently denied that the individual mandate was a tax.

The fate of ObamaCare is not yet set. The House has voted to pass my language to repeal 100% of ObamaCare. Every Republican Senator has voted to do the same. On the other hand, President Obama and Democrats in Congress remain as committed as ever to forcing the unconstitutional law that bears the President’s name upon an unwilling and disapproving public. The choice could not be clearer. The American people should be reminded that there is no force more powerful than their voice. After the passage of ObamaCare, the American people made their disapproval known in a powerful way. Today’s decision should renew that call and spirit.

The Constitution lays out a government of limited, enumerated powers, and the size and scope of our current government, and specifically ObamaCare, are well beyond what our Founding Fathers ever intended. The American people will decide the fate of ObamaCare.

Update 4:

The Heritage Foundation and Senator Jim DeMint will respond live at 11:30a (CST)/12:30p (EST):

Watch live streaming video from thfvanandel at livestream.com

Update 5:

Congressman Tom Latham’s statement:

While the Supreme Court has the duty to determine the constitutionality of the health care law, it does not have the authority to determine if it is good or bad policy for hardworking Americans.  Thankfully, it is still the American people who ultimately have the power and the right to make that final judgment.

I opposed and voted against the health care law because it is bad policy that ignored the voices of the people. Congress must set its sights on completely replacing this bad law with measures that truly will lower health care costs for hardworking taxpayers. I have offered a solution made up of better ideas that offer better solutions that will produce the best results for everyone.  My patient-centered approach empowers the American people, not Washington bureaucrats, to choose the best health care plan for themselves, and it puts them in control of their health care, not the government.

As we move forward, I continue to stand ready to work with any of my colleagues in Congress, regardless of political affiliation, who are willing to enact real solutions for the benefit of the American people.

Republican Presidential Nominee, Mitt Romney, said, “If we want to get rid of Obamacare, we’re going to have to replace Obama.”  You can watch his reaction below:

Update 6:

Smitty at The Other McCain videoed Congresswoman Michele Bachmann’s speech on the steps of The Supreme Court in response to their ruling this morning.

4 comments
  1. “This makes November even more important than it already was.”

    I so agree. That is why I have endorsed Mitt Romney for president!

    No time to sit on the sidelines when so much is at stake.

    1. The problem with that statement Bob is that Romney not only is the author of the individual mandate in RomneyCare. He also is on record saying he supported even at the federal level.

      Why should I trust what he is saying now?

      Yes the presidential election is important, but I believe the Congressional and Senate elections are just as important in November. You need to swing the Senate to be able to repeal and if you can do with with a super majority you don’t need the President’s signature 😉

      1. I hear you Shane. Many folks do not believe Romney because he has changed positions on this issue. I suggest that a super-filibuster-proof-majority will be needed either way in congress. My thinking is that the Dems will keep the majority unless the conservative base gets as energized about Romney as liberals are about Obama. The more GOP voters the better chance for a GOP senate.

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