Today the Supreme Court upheld the individual mandate law of the Affordable Care Act. This is an absolutely huge victory, not just for President Obama, but for the American people. Obama is the first President in American history to achieve some level of national healthcare reform. The polls consistently show that the majority of Americans don't support the law on its face, however, once the actual benefits are individuated (i.e. no discrimination for people with pre-existing conditions), the support skyrockets. What was interesting to see was how Roberts rejected the Solicitor General's argument that the penalty for non-compliance fell under the category of commerce, and instead found constitutional precedent for categorizing the penalty as a tax. It sort of flies in the face of my earlier argument that Roberts was purely a conservative ideologue. It's not yet clear what his personal motivations were for siding with the liberal justices. The second decision that was critical to the SCOTUS' ruling was the rejection of mandatory medicaid expansion at the state level. The reasoning was essentially that the congress cannot move to revoke all of a state's medicaid funds if they refuse to expand to cover the uninsured. The court left a legal opening for the states to expand their medicaid pools, should they so choose, but there are no penalties for maintaining status quo.
Romney and House republicans were delivered a huge blow by this ruling. Unconstitutionality was to be a bludgeon used delegitimize the President. In the absence of that weapon, republicans are at a serious loss.
Here is the Full Text of the SCOTUS Opinion.