Instead of focusing on this decision from a political perspective, I want to focus on it from a Constitutional perspective. How did the Justices reach the decision that the penalty for not purchasing health insurance was Constitutional?
(WARNING: The following information might cause uncontrollable laughing and/or crying, face-palming, and/or fits of rage)
For the logic and arguments used in the ruling, I turned to the Chicago-Kent University's Supreme Court Media website, Oyez.org. Link here.
The High Court was faced with four questions, but I am only going to focus on two:
- Is the suit brought by respondents to challenge the minimum coverage provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act barred by the Anti-Injunction Act, 2 U.S.C. 7421(a)? (The Anti-Injunction Act essentially states that someone must first pay a tax in order to challenge it in court. First, the Supremes had to determine whether the penalty for not having health insurance was indeed a tax. If it was, then no one would have standing to challenge it because it has not been assessed yet on anyone.)
- Does Congress have power under Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution, specifically under the Commerce Clause or the Taxing and Spending Clause, to require most Americans to purchase health insurance?
"The justices unanimously agreed that the Anti-Injunction Act did not bar the suit. Congress did not intend that the payment for non-compliance with the Individual Mandate be a tax for purposes of the Anti-Injunction Act."
Ok. So, the Court unanimously said that the penalty for not complying with the Individual Mandate was not a tax based on Congress "not intending" it to be. Congress could have said that it was a tax, but they did not. Therefore, the Court reasoned, that the Anti-Injunction Act did not come into play because the penalty is not a tax.
Let's stop right here. After reading this, you would think that the second question could now be answered. If Congress did not declare the penalty as a tax, then Congress does not have the authority under Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution to enact the Individual Mandate. How did the Court respond?
"Chief Justice Roberts, joined by Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan, concluded that the Individual Mandate penalty is a tax for the purposes of the Constitution's Taxing and Spending Clause and is a valid exercise of Congressional authority."
Confused? In a matter of moments, the Court contradicted itself. Now they are claiming that it IS a tax and is justified under the Constitution's Taxing and Spending Clause. Riiiight............ Let's put it in even more simplistic terms so the Democrats can understand:
The Obamacare penalty is not a tax for purposes of the Anti-Injunction Act.
The Obamacare penalty is a tax and is a valid under the Constitution's Taxing and Spending Clause.
I could see Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor and Kagan making an absurd claim like this. After all, they are radical leftist judicial activists with no respect for our Constitution or rule of law. But John Roberts? What the hell was he thinking?
The dissenting Justices pointed out the flaw in this thinking.
"As part of a jointly written dissenting opinion, Justices Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito disagreed, arguing that because Congress characterized the payment as a penalty, to instead characterize it as a tax would amount to rewriting the Act."
Hmmmmm. Congress did not characterize the payment as a tax. Congress. Did. Not. Characterize. The. Payment. As. A. Tax. Where have I heard that before? Oh yeah, from the same people who said the penalty IS a tax!
This begs the question: Why didn't the five anti-Constitutionalist Justices declare it a tax it when determining if the Obamacare challengers had standing under the Anti-Injunction Act? The challenge would have ended there and Obamacare would have been upheld. My theory is that they wanted/had to get to the second question. They wanted so badly to set the precedent that Congress has the authority to tax inactivity, they were willing to make idiots of themselves to do so. The Anti-Injunction Act had to be gotten around in order to get to what they really wanted to rule on. What better way do this than to simply say that it's not a tax and therefore the Anti-Injunction Act doesn't apply?