U.S. Supreme Court upholds Affordable Care Act.

I hope you weren't looking at Twitter just now. If so, you would have learned that the Supreme Court both struck down and upheld the Affordable Care Act. What actually happened is this: Chief Justice John Roberts read the majority decision, which, by a 5-4 vote, upholds the Affordable Care Act -- including the individual mandate -- with one exception: the federal government's power to end state Medicaid funding is narrowly read. The Court said that while the law's expansion of Medicaid is itself constitutional, it would not be constitutional for the federal government to withhold new existing Medicaid funding for states' failure to comply with the expansion provisions. From the majority decision: "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."Early reports indicate it was Roberts's vote that saved the law."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." From footnote 11 (as pointed out by SCOTUSblog): "Those subject to the individual mandate may lawfully forgo health insurance and pay higher taxes, or buy health insurance and pay lower taxes. The only thing that they may not lawfully do is buy health insurance and not pay the resulting tax."Justice Kennedy, reading the dissent -- which was joined by Scalia, Alito, and Thomas -- couldn't disagree more: "In our view, the entire Act before us is invalid in its entirety."For more, be sure to visit the (hopefully not overwhelmed) SCOTUSblog. And you can read the Court's opinions here (.pdf).

Grant Gallicho joined Commonweal as an intern and was an associate editor for the magazine until 2015. 

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