High Court Upholds 'Obamacare' Mandate as a Tax

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The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the controversial individual mandate in President Obama's healthcare law as a tax, not a penalty.

The president hailed the 5-4 ruling, which included Chief Justice John Roberts siding with the majority, as a "victory for people all over this country."

The justices said the mandate is only legal if it's a tax because Congress has the power to tax. But that means Congress cannot force Americans to buy anything, but they can tax them if they don't.

*Read the full text of the Supreme Court's health care decision here.

CBN News Chief Political Correspondent David Brody was outside the Supreme Court as the decision was revealed.  Click play for his report, including reaction from protestors who gathered.

CBN News Washington Correspondent Jennifer Wishon and Carrie Severino, with the Judicial Crisis Network, also gave analysis of the decision.

"The Affordable Care Act's requirement that certain individuals pay a financial penalty for not obtaining health insurance may be reasonably characterized as a tax. Because the Constitution permits such a tax, it is not our role to forbid it, or to pass upon its wisdom or fairness," the justices said in the ruling.

Roberts and justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor represented the majority opinion. Justices Samuel Alito, Anthony Kennedy, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas dissented.

"The act before us here exceeds federal power both in mandating the purchase of health insurance and in denying non-consenting states all Medicaid funding,"

But Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney used the opportunity draw a contrast between himself and his opponent, saying Americans had a crucial decision to make.

"Obamacare was bad policy yesterday; it's bad policy today. Obamacare was bad law yesterday. It's bad law today," Romney told reporters upon hearing the decision.

Regent University professor Jim Duane offered his analysis of the justices' opinions. Watch his comments below.

"This is the time of choice for the American people," Romney said. "Our mission is clear: If we want to get rid of Obamacare, we're going to have to replace President Obama. My mission is to make sure we do exactly that."

On its face the ruling is a victory for the Obama administration, but GOP political strategist Karl Rove warned the fight over 'Obamacare' is far from over.

"If this is actually the decision, it's a boost for the president, but it doesn't make the controversy go away," Rove told Fox News. "In fact, it probably enhances the controversy."

While the court upheld the individual mandate, it limited the law's expansion of Medicare.
Congress will be allowed to give the states more money to expand the program, but they cannot punish states that choose not to do it themselves.

"We now know that health care is legal, constitutional, undeniable and irreversible."

GOP lawmakers are also calling for the law's repeal.

"Today's decision makes one thing clear: Congress must act to repeal this misguided law. Obamacare has not only limited choices and increased health care costs for American families, it has made it harder for American businesses to hire," Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said in a statement.

"Today's decision does nothing to diminish the fact that Obamacare's mandates, tax hikes, and Medicare cuts should be repealed and replaced with common sense reforms that lower costs and that the American people actually want," the Kentucky lawmaker continued.

"It is my hope that with new leadership in the White House and Senate, we can enact these step-by-step solutions and prevent further damage from this terrible law," he said. "There's really no other way to sum up what's going on here at the Supreme Court other than emotion. Anger, frustration, jubilee, happiness, and yes, sadness. It's a psychotherapy experiment right here on the steps of the Supreme Court."

For the hundreds of Tea Party supporters who traveled to the Supreme Court expecting a different outcome, the disappointment was palpable.

"It's sadness because today the Supreme Court has just killed the Constitution," Tea Party supporter Dawn told CBN News. "And they killed our economy. It's like seeing America go down a pit. I don't know if I can even talk."

The sadness though may be temporary because anti-Obamacare supporters say they are ready to send the president packing.
"He's going to have to defend the least popular law in modern American history at the ballot box in November," Obamacare opponent Steve Thomas said.

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