The Breathtaking Lawlessness Of Chief Justice Roberts’ ObamaCare Decision
This is from the ObamaCare SCOTUS syllabus (pdf) which technically isn’t part of the opinion but a summation of the holdings that the justices approve before it’s included in decision.
1. CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS delivered the opinion of the Court with respect to Part II, concluding that the Anti-Injunction Act does not bar this suit. The Anti-Injunction Act provides that “no suit for the purpose of restraining the assessment or collection of any tax shall be maintained in any court by any person,” 26 U. S. C. §7421(a), so that those subject to a tax must first pay it and then sue for a refund. The present challenge seeks to restrain the collection of the shared responsibility payment from those who do not comply with the individual mandate. But Congress did not intend the payment to be treated as a “tax” for purposes of the Anti-Injunction Act. The Affordable Care Act describes the payment as a “penalty,” not a “tax.” That label cannot control whether the payment is a tax for purposes of the Constitution, but it does determine the application of the Anti-Injunction Act. The Anti-Injunction Act therefore does not bar this suit. Pp. 11–
3. CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS concluded in Part III–B that the individual mandate must be construed as imposing a tax on those who do not have health insurance, if such a construction is reasonable.
The most straightforward reading of the individual mandate is that it commands individuals to purchase insurance. But, for the reasons explained, the Commerce Clause does not give Congress that power.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.” Art. I, §8, cl. 1. 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. Because “every reasonable construction must be resorted to, in order to save a statute from unconstitutionality,” Hooper v. California, 155
U. S. 648, 657, the question is whether it is “fairly possible” to interpret the mandate as imposing such a tax, Crowell v. Benson, 285
U. S. 22, 62. Pp. 31–32.
Got that? In Part II of the decision, it’s not a tax so the case can go forward but by Part II, it’s magically OK under the taxing power.
I guess the Taxing Power is so awesome it empowers things that aren’t taxes.