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Obamacare Judgment Day: SCOTUS-watch open thread; Update: Mandate upheld as a tax, rest of law upheld almost in its entirety — Roberts joins left of the court

By Doug Powers  •  June 28, 2012 09:18 AM

**Written by Doug Powers

The long awaited Supreme Court decision on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — Obamacare to most — is due at or just after 10 a.m.

Keep an eye on SCOTUSBlog’s live blog as the decisions are announced (live audio or video of the decisions is not being allowed), and I’ll also post the decision(s) here. Naturally there are those who believe that if the law is overturned, we’re all going to die.

There’s no need to go over all the possibilities, because the Chicago Sun Times has already published the copy they’ll use in any of the three contingencies — Whoops.

Today the Court will also release their decision regarding the constitutionality of the Stolen Valor Act. The other decision expected is First American Financial v. Edwards.

We’ll pick this up again once the decisions start coming down. Place your bets and brace for impact…


Decisions coming down now…

Stolen Valor Act ruled unconstitutional. Ninth Circus affirmed. From SCOTUSBlog: “The upshot is that this version of the Stolen Valor Act is unconstitutional, but Congress may be able to do a new law.”

“First American” dismissed. Now the health care ruling…

Yikes. Obamacare upheld almost in its entirety:

“The mandate is constitutional. Chief Justice Roberts joins the left of the Court.” [Laurence Tribe was right – DP]

“The Medicaid provision is limited but not invalidated.”

“The bottom line: the entire ACA is upheld, with the exception that the federal government’s power to terminate states’ Medicaid funds is narrowly read.”

The mandate survives “as a tax.” That should help the middle class dig out of the recession. (flashback 2009: Obama says individual mandate isn’t a tax)

This doesn’t mean we’re stuck with Obamacare forever — it means that November 6th just got much more important, and I didn’t think that was possible.

More details:

On the Medicaid issue, a majority of the Court holds that the Medicaid expansion is constitutional but that it w/b unconstitutional for the federal government to withhold Medicaid funds for non-compliance with the expansion provisions.
The Court holds that the mandate violates the Commerce Clause, but that doesn’t matter b/c there are five votes for the mandate to be constitutional under the taxing power.
In opening his statement in dissent, Kennedy says: “In our view, the entire Act before us is invalid in its entirety.”
In Plain English:The Affordable Care Act, including its individual mandate that virtually all Americans buy health insurance, is constitutional. There were not five votes to uphold it on the ground that Congress could use its power to regulate commerce between the states to require everyone to buy health insurance. However, five Justices agreed that the penalty that someone must pay if he refuses to buy insurance is a kind of tax that Congress can impose using its taxing power. That is all that matters. Because the mandate survives, the Court did not need to decide what other parts of the statute were constitutional, except for a provision that required states to comply with new eligibility requirements for Medicaid or risk losing their funding. On that question, the Court held that the provision is constitutional as long as states would only lose new funds if they didn’t comply with the new requirements, rather than all of their funding.

Link to the opinion (PDF).

Though Obama and the Democrats have won the day, given the lack of popularity of the health care law (two thirds of Americans wanted the Supreme Court to overturn at least some part of the law), in just a few months they may very well look back and view this time as the moment that was the last straw for voters and the end of the president’s re-election hopes. We’ll see.

More updates:

These Tweets should make you more comfortable about the ones in charge of your health care.

–House schedules repeal vote for July 11.

–Pelosi: “We made history.” Maybe someday she’ll actually read the legislation to find out why.

–Romney raises $100,000 in less than an hour after SCOTUS ruling.

–Tingles probably doesn’t feel this way today.

–Media outlets have “Dewey defeats Truman” moments.

–A reminder that the elimination of private health insurance was always the plan.

–Pelosi: Senator Kennedy can now rest in peace. Mary Jo Kopechne unavailable for comment.

–Romney responds:

**Written by Doug Powers

Twitter @ThePowersThatBe

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Categories: 2012 Campaign, Barack Obama, Jimmy Carter, Media