UPDATED at 12:30 p.m. ET: The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the insurance provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act are constitutional, handing President Barack Obama a major election-year victory and shunning 26 states that had sought to overturn the reform law.
The court ruled that Congress has the power to compel individuals to purchase insurance as a tax on people who do not have health insurance.
In a complex 193-page opinion and dissent (PDF), the court ruled that Congress has the power to compel individuals to purchase insurance as a tax on people who do not have health insurance.
"The individual mandate cannot be upheld as an exercise of Congress power under the Commerce Clause," Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the majority opinion. "In this case however, it is reasonable to construe what Congress has done as increasing taxes on those who have a certain amount of income but choose to go without health insurance. Such legislation is within Congress' power to tax."
Contrary to some predictions, Roberts joined the court's politically liberal wing as a swing vote, while Justice Anthony Kennedy joined the court's conservative majority, which sought to strike down the insurance mandate.
“Whatever may be the conceptual limits upon the Commerce Clause and upon the power to tax and spend, they cannot be such as will enable the federal government to regulate all private conduct and to compel the states to function as administrators of federal programs,” the minority dissent says. “That clear principle carries the day here.”