Supreme Court holds that Affordable Care Act is Constitutional because individual mandate is a permissible tax
YouSirName 2012/06/28 15:07:10
The long-awaited Supreme Court ruling shows that some of the Supreme Court justices still take their job seriously. Ignoring the politics of the situation, the SC rejected the Commerce Clause justification and cut to the essence of the law. Congress is permissibly allowed to pass laws that "take" from citizens (just like Social Security "takes") in order to carry out a social goal that affects the general welfare if that taking can be considered a tax. Since that is the essence of what the ACA does - requiring health insurance for (almost) all in order to provide funds to ensure healthcare availability for vulnerable populations (those with pre-existing conditions, young adults still in need of coverage under parents' insurance, etc.), and enforcing that requirement through the tax system, it is Constitutional.
From Roberts' opinion:
"Under the mandate, if an individual does not maintain health insurance, the only consequence is that he must make an additional payment to the IRS when he pays his taxes. See §5000A(b). That, according to the Government, means the mandate can be regarded as establishing acondition—not owning health insurance—that triggers atax—the required payment to the IRS. Under that theory, the mandate is not a legal command to buy insurance.Rather, it makes going without insurance just another thing the Government taxes, like buying gasoline or earning
income. And if the mandate is in effect just a tax hike on certain taxpayers who do not have health insurance, it may be within Congress’s constitutional power to tax."
"...analysis here suggests that the shared responsibilitypayment may for constitutional purposes be considered a tax, not a penalty: First, for most Americans the amount due will be far less than the price of insurance, and, by statute, it can never be more.
"...Second, the individual mandate contains no scienter requirement. Third, the payment is collected solely by theIRS through the normal means of taxation—except thatthe Service is not allowed to use those means most suggestive of a punitive sanction, such as criminal prosecution. See §5000A(g)(2). The reasons the Court in Drexel Furniture held that what was called a “tax” there was a penalty support the conclusion that what is called a “penalty” heremay be viewed as a tax.
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