President Obama’s signature legislative achievement survived judicial review almost entirely intact, but the victory should be looked at more closely. “The power to regulate commerce presupposes the existence of commercial activity to be regulated,” Chief Justice Roberts wrote in his opinion. The Commerce Clause “is not a general license to regulate an individual from cradle to grave, simply because he will predictably engage in particular transactions.” The Supreme Court took the interpretation of the health care law’s opponents and upheld the health care mandate on the ground that it was really a tax on young healthy people who choose not to purchase health insurance at rates designed to subsidize their elders. Obama got the result he wanted, but the challengers won the constitutional argument.
Chief Justice Roberts crafts a ruling more conservative than it looks (Reuters)
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