The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act on Thursday. The 5-4 vote in favor was surprising for the fact that Chief Justice John Roberts, a Bush appointee, was the swing vote, siding with the more liberal justices to preserve Obamacare.
Roberts concluded that while Congress does not have the constitutional power, under the Commerce clause, to impose the crucial individual mandate portion of Obamacare, which requires people to purchase health insurance, it does have the power to tax people who don't obtain health insurance. That set him apart in philosophy, but in in effect from the liberal justices who saw no problem with use of the Commerce clause to justify the government's actions.
The impact on national health policy is huge, but so is the impact on constitutional law. The government's ability to regulate interstate commerce seems to be curtailed by this case, but the sweeping power of taxation seems to more than make up for that.
The decision gives the government the go-ahead to implement the law over the next few years. Once it is entrenched it will be difficult to repeal, as Republicans still hope to do.
That is not going to happen this year, since the Democratic Party still hold the majority in the Senate. Republicans are sure to make this a campaign issue in the presidential race and congressional elections across the country.
In other words, we have not heard the last word on the Obamacare issue.