The Obama Administration Pulled A Legal Bait-And-Switch And Roberts Bought It
It appears as though the chief bone of contention that ultimately decided the legal question of the individual mandate is whether or not the mandate is a tax. During the health care debate Democrats, up to and including the President himself, argued that the mandate was not a tax. But then, as the case over the matter went before the Supreme Court, the Obama administration switched tact and argued that the mandate was a tax.
And Chief Justice John Roberts bought it. “The Affordable Care Act’s requirement that certain individuals pay a financial penalty for not obtaining health insurance may reasonably be characterized as a tax,” he wrote in the majority opinion. “Because the Constitution permits such a tax, it is not our role to forbid it, or to pass upon its wisdom or fairness.”
Justice Kennedy – dissenting along with Justices Thomas, Scalia and Alito – didn’t buy it.
“[T]o say that the Individual Mandate merely imposes a tax is not to interpret the statute but to rewrite it,” wrote Justice Kennedy in his dissent to Chief Justice John Roberts’ majority decision on the individual mandate.
The intent of Congress, according to the very people who passed the law, was that the mandate wasn’t a tax and was justified under the commerce clause, not Congress’ taxing powers. But when the matter went before the high court, the Obama administration changed from justifying the law under the commerce clause to justifying it under taxing power in the hope of peeling off one of the conservative justices.
They did that. Roberts fell for it, and Obamacare has been upheld.Tags: commerce clause, john roberts, obamacare, Supreme Court