Affordable Care Act Upheld

By Andrew Lu on June 27, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

In a somewhat surprising decision, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the entire Affordable Care Act, often called Obamacare, by a 5-4 vote.

This landmark decision affirms one of the signature laws passed under President Obama, and the success of his presidency could be viewed in light of this law.

The decision was surprising as there were many controversial parts of the law. Had the Court struck down just one of these parts, the entire law would likely have been struck down. But that wasn't the case.

One of the central issues with Obamacare was whether Congress had the power to require individuals to buy health insurance. Opponents argued this requirement of the Affordable Care Act violated the Commerce Clause by forcing Americans to enter the marketplace and purchase health insurance against their will.

Writing the majority opinion, Chief Justice John Roberts agreed with this argument and said that the individual mandate would violate the Commerce Clause. However, the Chief Justice then said that the mandate could be upheld as a tax. So while Congress cannot force you to purchase anything in the marketplace, it does have the power to tax you.

By upholding the law, the Justices also indirectly addressed two other major issues relating to the law: Whether the case could be resolved now, despite penalties not taking effect until 2014; and whether the entire law would be struck down if parts of it were found unconstitutional.

Clearly, the Court found that the law was ripe for challenge by issuing a decision. In addition, the Court never needed to address the issue of whether to strike down the law in part, as it upheld the entire law.

The Supreme Court upholds Obamacare. One major result is that beginning in 2014, individuals will be required to carry health insurance, or suffer the penalties under the Affordable Care Act.

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