Supreme Court has upheld health care law individual mandate. Did you expect that?
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Supreme Court of the United States has issued its final ruling on the controversial Healthcare Reform act passed in 2010 and championed by President Barack Obama.
The court released its decision shortly after 8 a.m. M.D.T.
Justices found the collection of laws known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act -- or Obamacare -- could be upheld by the high court's taxing authority, rather than the commerce clause as it was previously regulated under.
What does it mean?
The 5-4 decision means the huge overhaul, still taking effect, could proceed and pick up momentum over the next several years, affecting the way that countless Americans receive and pay for their personal medical care.
The justices rejected two of the administration's three arguments in support of the insurance requirement. But the court said the mandate can be construed as a tax. "Because the Constitution permits such a tax, it is not our role to forbid it, or to pass upon its wisdom or fairness," Roberts said.
The court found problems with the law's expansion of Medicaid, but even there said the expansion could proceed as long as the federal government does not threaten to withhold states' entire Medicaid allotment if they don't take part in the law's extension.
Protestors decry the ruling in Washington
How the justices voted
The court's four liberal justices, Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, joined Roberts in the outcome.
Justices Samuel Alito, Anthony Kennedy, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas dissented.
"The act before us here exceeds federal power both in mandating the purchase of health insurance and in denying non-consenting states all Medicaid funding," the dissenters said in a joint statement.
Kennedy summarized the dissent in court. "In our view, the act before us is invalid in its entirety," he said.
A political victory for Obama?
The legislation passed Congress in early 2010 after a monumental struggle in which all Republicans voted against it. House Republicans announced in advance of the ruling they would vote to wipe out whatever was left standing by the justices, and GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney has joined in calls for its complete repeal.
After the ruling, Republican campaign strategists said Romney will use it to continue campaigning against "Obamacare" and attacking the president's signature health care program as a tax increase.