Reports are still coming in, and the ruling is reportedly rather complicated, but it appears that Chief Justice John Roberts unexpectedly sided with the center-left justices, upheld the individual mandate, and the Affordable Care Act has been upheld by the Supreme Court majority.
The key, at this point, is that the court majority appears to have upheld the mandate as a tax. For more on what that means, check out Ezra’s item from this morning.
I’ll update this post very soon.
Update #1: By way of SCOTUS Blog, the court majority focused not on the Commerce Clause, but on Congress’ taxing authority. From the majority on the mandate: “Our precedent demonstrates that Congress had the power to impose the exaction in Section 5000A under the taxing power, and that Section 5000A need not be read to do more than impose a tax. This is sufficient to sustain it.”
Update #2: The ruling as it relates to the mandate was 5 to 4, with Roberts joining Kagan, Sotomayor, Ginsburg, and Breyer.
Update #3: The ruling on Medicaid expansion is proving to be more interesting than expected. From SCOTUS Blog’s Lyle Denniston: “The key comment on salvaging the Medicaid expansion is this (from Roberts): ’Nothing in our opinion precludes Congress from offering funds under the ACA to expand the availability of health care, and requiring that states accepting such funds comply with the conditions on their use. What Congress is not free to do is to penalize States that choose not to participate in that new program by taking away their existing Medicaid funding.’ (p. 55)”
Update #4: The breakdown on the mandate ruling is a little tricky. There are five justices (see #2) who upheld the mandate on tax grounds, but not on Commerce Clause grounds. The four center-left justices agreed that the mandate is permissible under both parts of the law, but Roberts disagreed on the Commerce Clause. The practical effect remains the same: the mandate is legal.
Update #5: Justice Kennedy, thought to be a possible swing vote, says in his dissent that he wanted to strike down the entirety of the Affordable Care Act. Something to think about next time someone calls him a “moderate.”
Update #6: Here’s the text of the ruling (pdf).
Update #7: That sound you hear is Solicitor General Don Verrilli making the loudest exhale in the history of humanity. (Verrilli, you’ll recall, didn’t have a good day in March.)