In a close decision with an unexpected tiebreaker, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the national health care plan pushed by President Barack Obama and Congressional Democrats.
Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., a conservative chosen during George W. Bush’s presidency, cast the surprise deciding vote to uphold the legislation.
Under the health care plan nicknamed “Obamacare,” U.S. citizens will be required to pay a penalty if they do not purchase health insurance that meets federal requirements.
Although Obama had denied that the legislation would be a tax, the Supreme Court upheld the legislation under the premise that the individual mandate penalty would be a tax.
The Court ruled that a mandate such as the one in the health care law does not fall within Congress' power to regulate interstate commerce. This was Roberts’ provision, but he had no objection to upholding the law based on different Congressional powers, according to an article on The New York Times’ website.
“The Government’s logic would justify a mandatory purchase to solve almost any problem,” Roberts wrote in the Court’s majority opinion.
The legislation also expands Medicaid, the government insurance program for low-income and sick Americans, but the decision softens this provision, which would have retracted funding from states that did not comply.
Florida and 25 other states argued against the constitutionality of the law and filed a lawsuit that made its way to the Supreme Court and today’s decision.