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Excerpts from the Supreme Court’s health care ruling

Updated: June 29, 2012 10:58AM



Excerpts from Thursday’s health care ruling:

The majority opinion by Chief Justice John Roberts:

“It is therefore necessary to turn to the Government’s alternative argument: that the mandate may be upheld as within Congress’s power to ‘lay and collect Taxes.’ In pressing its taxing power argument, the Government asks the Court to view the mandate as imposing a tax on those who do not buy that product.”

“The reforms also threaten to impose massive new costs on insurers, who are required to accept unhealthy individuals but prohibited from charging them rates necessary to pay for their coverage. This will lead insurers to significantly increase premiums on everyone. The individual mandate was Congress’s solution to these problems. By requiring that individuals purchase health insurance, the mandate prevents cost-shifting by those who would otherwise go without it. In addition, the mandate forces into the insurance risk pool more healthy individuals, whose premiums on average will be higher than their health care expenses.”

“Under the Government’s theory, Congress could address the diet problem by ordering everyone to buy vegetables ... That is not the country the Framers of our Constitution envisioned.”

“It is estimated that four million people each year will choose to pay the IRS rather than buy insurance ... We would expect Congress to be troubled by that prospect if such conduct were unlawful. That Congress apparently regards such extensive failure to comply with the mandate as tolerable suggests that Congress did not think it was creating four million outlaws. It suggests instead that the shared responsibility payment merely imposes a tax citizens may lawfully choose to pay in lieu of buying health insurance.”

The dissent by Justice Antonin Scalia:

“Congress has impressed into service third parties, healthy individuals who could be but are not customers of the relevant industry, to offset the undesirable consequences of the regulation ... If Congress can reach out and command even those furthest removed from an interstate market to participate in the market, then the Commerce Clause becomes a font of unlimited power, or in Hamilton’s words, ‘the hideous monster whose devouring jaws . . . spare neither sex nor age, nor high nor low, nor sacred nor profane.’”

“The values that should have determined our course today are caution, minimalism, and the understanding that the Federal Government is one of limited powers. But the Court’s ruling undermines those values at every turn. In the name of restraint, it overreaches.”

“The Court regards its strained statutory interpretation as judicial modesty. It is not. It amounts instead to a vast judicial overreaching. It creates a debilitated, inoperable version of health-care regulation that Congress did not enact and the public does not expect.”

-Abdon M. Pallasch



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