All Weekend, Every Weekend. On C-SPAN3.

Supreme Court Upholds Health Care Law

Washington, DC
Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Supreme Court announced, Thursday, that the entire Affordable Care Act is upheld. They did issue some limits on the Medicaid portion of the bill. Chief Justice John Roberts appears to be the crucial fifth vote. This is the final case of the 2011 term.

The Court upheld the individual mandate, deeming it a tax. From the decision: "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."

Regarding the Medicaid portion of the act, the opinion held the expansion of the low-income health insurance constitutional, but said that the federal government couldn't withhold funds for the program from states that don't comply with federal provisions.

Chief Justice Roberts wrote in his opinion, "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."

Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) speaking on the Senate floor after the opinion was read, said "our Supreme Court has spoken, the matter is settled."

In a written statement, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) said the House would schedule a vote for repeal the week of July 9th, "clearing the way for patient-centered reforms that lower costs and increase choice." He later said it would likely be on Wednesday, July 11.

Republican Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney spoke to reporters from Washington, D.C., vowing to "repeal and replace" the law.  He laid out some of the provisions that he would seek to put into a replacement bill, including lowering costs for everyone and leaving the pre-existing condition clause in place.

President Obama spoke from the White House in what was billed as an "address to the nation," saying "whatever the politics, today's decision was a victory for people all over this country." He highlighted the provisions of the act that have already taken affect and the benefits they provide. He spoke about the health insurance marketplaces that the act will create, and noted that insurance companies can no longer discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions.

In March, the U.S. Supreme Court held three days of oral arguments on the multi-state lawsuit challenging the health care law. On March 26, 27 and 28 the Court Justices sat for a combined six hours to determine the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The case is officially known as Florida v. Department of Health & Human Services.

The court heard arguments on four issues related to the case: whether the court has jurisdiction over a tax law that has yet to take effect, whether the individual mandate is constitutional, whether the court can strike down only part of the law without striking down the law in its entirety, and whether the law's extension of Medicaid is constitutional.

Because the court upheld the individual mandate, they did not need to address severability.

In addition to the health care ruling, decisions on the following two cases are being handed down: 

In U.S. v. Alvarez, which deals with a federal law that criminalizes false statements about military honors, the law was struck down as unconstitutional.

In First American Financial Corporation v. Edwards, a real estate case that asks whether a buyer has the right to sue if he was steered toward a certain title company due to a kickback, the case was dismissed.

Updated: Friday, June 29, 2012 at 2:34pm (ET)

Related Events

If the Health Care Law Constitutes a Tax, Does the Court Have Jurisdiction?
Monday, March 26, 2012     

On the first day of oral argument, the Supreme Court heard one and a half hours of oral argument on the jurisdictional issue of whether the federal Anti-Injunction Act is relevant to the Affordable Care Act and if so, does the Court have jurisdiction. The Anti-Injunction Act prohibits the Courts from striking down tax laws before they take effect.

Oral Argument on Anti-Injunction Act and Health Care Law
Monday, March 26, 2012     

The Supreme Court released the audio from the oral argument heard on Monday morning in the multi-state healthcare lawsuit. The case is Florida v. Department of Health & Human Services. The Court is considering whether the federal Anti-Injunction Act is relevant to the Affordable Care Act and if so, does the Court have jurisdiction? The Anti-Injunction Act prohibits the Courts from striking down tax laws before they take effect.

Is the Individual Mandate to Purchase Health Care Coverage Constitutional?
Tuesday, March 27, 2012     

On the second day of oral argument, the Supreme Court heard two hours of oral argument on the individual mandate portion of the health care law.

Supreme Court Determining the Constitutionality of Health Care Act
Thursday, March 29, 2012     

The U.S. Supreme Court held three days of oral arguments on the multi-state lawsuit challenging the health care law. The justices sat for six hours to determine the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Senate Cmte. Assesses Veterans' Access to Mental Health Care
Wednesday, April 25, 2012     

The Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee held a hearing on veterans’ access to mental health care.The hearing examined the results of a report released on Tuesday by the Department of Veterans Affairs Inspector General, which concludes that about half of veterans seeking mental health care do not receive it as quickly as the VA claimed.

Healthcare Experts Highlight Rise in Health Care Costs
Tuesday, May 29, 2012     

The Alliance for Health Reform assembled several panels of experts to discuss the causes of rising health care costs. Topics included the cost of high-tech medical procedures, chronic disease, life style choices and high cost patients.

Senator Sam Ervin and Watergate
Sunday     

We hear about Senator Sam Ervin’s time as chair of the Senate Watergate Committee from his former aide Rufus Edmisten and his grandson, Judge Sam Ervin IV. They recall Ervin’s character and how the self-proclaimed country lawyer relied on his knowledge of the law and personal convictions to guide the Senate Watergate Committee.  

The Presidency: Bush v. Gore & the 2000 Election
Sunday     

A conversation about the 2000 presidential election and the resulting Supreme Court case, Bush v. Gore. In a 5-4 decision, the court ruled in favor of Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush – and against his Democratic challenger, Vice President Al Gore. At issue was the tabulation of Florida’s votes. Panelists include lawyers from both sides of the case, as well as the Palm Beach County elections supervisor who oversaw the recount in that area. The St. Thomas University Ethics Center and the Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics and Public Trust hosted this event.

Chief Justice John Roberts: Magna Carta 800th Anniversary
Sunday     

From the American Bar Association's annual meeting, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts discusses the history and significance of Magna Carta as we approach its 800th anniversary in 2015.

The Life of Milton Friedman
Sunday     

Economist Mark Skousen reflects on the life of Nobel Prize winning economist Milton Friedman and his contributions to the study of economics – especially his work to re-establish the American economy following World War II. Skousen also reflects on his personal relationship with Friedman and the economist’s influence on his own career. The Kansas City Public Library hosted this event. 

Share This Event Via Social Media

Audio Playlist

  • HHS Conference Call with Sec. Sebelius (6/29)

Photo Gallery

Sundays at Eight - New Book