It’s a tax– hooray!!
June 28, 2012 Leave a comment
To me, here’s the key portion of 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, itmay be within Congress’s constitutional power to tax.
The question is not whether that is the most naturalinterpretation of the mandate, but only whether it is a “fairly possible” one. Crowell v. Benson, 285 U. S. 22, 62 (1932). As we have explained, “every reasonable construction must be resorted to, in order to save a statute from unconstitutionality.” Hooper v. California, 155 U. S. 648, 657 (1895). [emphasis mine]
Among other things, this has always clearly been a tax, as Roberts makes clear. The fact that the Democrats never wanted to actually call it a “tax” for political reasons does not change that. As the emphasized text shows, this is also a model of genuine judicial restraint.
And why do I care so much and am so damn happy? Because millions and millions of Americans will now be able to have health insurance (and thus better health) than if this were struck down. Now tell me how that’s a bad thing? Ezra on the personal implications.