Washington, June 28: In a historic verdict, the US Supreme Court Thursday upheld President Barack Obama’s signature health care law, handing him a major victory in the run-up to the November presidential poll.
In a split 5-4 decision, the court upheld the law’s central provision requiring all people to have health insurance beginning 2014 or pay a fine, saying that while people could not be forced to buy insurance the proposed penalty could be imposed as a tax.
In a surprise majority decision written by conservative Chief Justice John Roberts, appointed to the top post by Obama’s predecessor George Bush, the court essentially ruled that the so-called individual mandate was unconstitutional under the commerce clause, but okay as a tax.
“Our precedent demonstrates that Congress had the power to impose the exaction in Section 5000A under the taxing power, and that Section 5000A need not be read to do more than impose a tax. This is sufficient to sustain it,” Roberts wrote.
Obama, who is expected to comment in a couple of hours on the decision that would give a major boost to his political fortunes in a tough re-election battle, has defended his health care law as the way forward for the American people.
“They understand we don’t need to re-fight this battle over health care,” he told supporters in Atlanta Tuesday, calling “It’s the right thing to do.”
But, his likely Republican rival Mitt Romney told supporters in Virginia the same day that if the Supreme Court upheld the law, “Then we’ll have to have a president — and I’m that one — that’s gonna get rid of Obamacare. We’re gonna stop it on day one.”
(Arun Kumar can be contacted at email@example.com)