Regardless of where you stand on the Affordable Care Act, the recent decision made clear the Supreme Court (or Justice Roberts, anyway) position about the role of the Supreme Court.
We all know there are three branches of the United States government with separate powers; Congress has the power to legislate, the President has the executive powers and the Supreme Court possesses the power of judicial review. This provides a check and balance against any one branch from having too much power. The President can veto a bill passed by Congress, Congress can override the veto and the Supreme Court can declare a law unconstitutional. The process has to have a starting point.
The common sense approach would be to presume if a law passed by Congress and signed by the President the law is constitutional. The Court’s role is not to contradict but to oversee the President and Congress; a subtle difference, but important nonetheless. The Supreme Court should only declare a law unconstitutional if it can find no justification for upholding its constitutionality.
This seems to be Justice Roberts’ tact. According to reports, Justice Roberts at first voted against the ACA after hearing the oral arguments, but changed his mind after further deliberations. His opinion stated the constitutionality could not found in the “commerce clause” of the Constitution; however, the law was constitutional under the wording of the “power to levy taxes” clause.
His decision does not mean he has abandoned his stance as a strict conservative; rather he is being a strict constructionist when it comes to interpreting the Constitution. As far as I’m concerned, the Supreme Court has regained its credibility. What bothers me is those who for years have claimed the Supreme Court has become too “activist” are now screaming he is a traitor.
For New Yorkers, not that much will change in the short term. We have had health alliances and exchanges in New York for years. It is an easy decision – the law makes it very expensive for states that do not opt-in.
In Massachusetts, less than 1% of the population pays the penalty for not having healthcare insurance. Another easy decision – would you rather pay for the health insurance itself, or pay for not having it? Most people find it makes more sense to pay for have health insurance than pay a penalty that may cost the same as insurance