Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP/GettyImages.
UPDATE #62: We're going to wrap up this live-blog, but have no fear we'll leave you in the capable hands of the rest of the Slate team, which is providing some of the smartest analysis out there.
You can check out all our coverage of today's decision here. If you're not sure where to start, we recommend David L. Franklin explaining why John Roberts did what he did:
"Sometimes you just have to take one for the team. A wistful thought of that kind must have flitted through the mind of Chief Justice John Roberts today as he announced that the Supreme Court was upholding the Affordable Care Act by the slimmest of margins." Read more.
Or, if you prefer, Dahlia Lithwick offers the scene from the courtroom:
"The whole pressroom looked like a bunch of high-school seniors waiting to see whether the mailman was bringing them a fat envelope from their first-choice college or a thin one. It turned out to be a pretty fat envelope." Read more.
UPDATE #61 3:54 p.m. : How many times was "broccoli" mentioned in Thursday's decision? The Wall Street Journal's glad you asked: An even dozen.
UPDATE #60 at 3:52 p.m.: Did John Roberts switch his vote at the proverbial eleventh-hour? Salon's Paul Campos thinks so:
"It is impossible for a lawyer to read even the first few pages of the dissent without coming away with the impression that this is a majority opinion that at the last moment lost its fifth vote. Its structure and tone are those of a winning coalition, not that of the losing side in the most controversial Supreme Court case in many years. But when we get to Page 13, far more conclusive evidence appears: No less than 15 times in the space of the next few pages, the dissent refers to Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s concurring opinion as “Justice Ginsburg’s dissent.
"There is one likely explanation for this: The dissent was the majority opinion when those who voted to overturn the entire ACA signed off on sending their text to the printer. In other words, Chief Justice Roberts changed his vote at the very last possible moment." Read more.
UPDATE #59 3:43 p.m.: The New York Times with a little more on the silver lining for old-school legal conservatives:
"Although many conservatives were stung that the law will stand, the court’s ruling did have the potential to restrain Congress in the longer term. The restriction of the Medicaid expansion could limit the federal government’s ability to alter other federally financed state programs.
"The commerce clause ruling revised the constitutional structure, handing a victory to conservative legal scholars who say Congress’s power to regulate interstate commerce must have defined limits. New challenges to federal laws on commerce clause grounds are likely to follow."
UPDATE #58 3:35 p.m.: NBC News' Chuck Todd reports that President Obama originally saw the inaccurate headlines on two cable news networks (we're guessing CNN and Fox News) reporting that his landmark law had been overturned. It wasn't until his lawyer rushed in and gave a thumbs up that the president knew the real outcome, according to Todd.
UPDATE #57 3:24 p.m.: The New Yorker's Ryan Lizza explains why a President Romney wouldn't—or more specifically, couldn't—repeal Obamacare:
"Absent the Senate Democratic Caucus being found to be running a crack house or chid-prostitution ring, there is no prospect whatsoever of the Republicans winning a sixty-vote, filibuster-proof majority in the Senate this year. The most likely outcome is the Democrats narrowly retaining control, though Republican control is certainly within the realm of possibility." Read more.
UPDATE #56 3:20 p.m.: The Washington Post's Ezra Klein is up with a post on the "political genius" of John Roberts:
"The 5-4 language suggests that Roberts agreed with the liberals. But for the most part, he didn’t. If you read the opinions, he sided with the conservative bloc on every major legal question before the court. He voted with the conservatives to say the Commerce Clause did not justify the individual mandate. He voted with the conservatives to say the Necessary and Proper Clause did not justify the mandate. He voted with the conservatives to limit the federal government’s power to force states to carry out the planned expansion of Medicaid. 'He was on-board with the basic challenge,' said Orin Kerr, a law professor at George Washington University and a former clerk to Justice Kennedy. 'He was on the conservative side of the controversial issues.'" Read more.
UPDATE #55 3:13 p.m.: Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick was at the Supreme Court for the ruling and offers her instant reaction and analysis to Slate V.
UPDATE #54 3:05 p.m.: Mike Pence, an Indiana Republican who is the current front-runner in his state's gubernatorial race, appears to have put his foot in his mouth this morning.
Politico reports that in a closed-door House GOP meeting Thursday, Pence "likened the Supreme Court's ruling upholding the Democratic health care law to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks," according to several unnamed sources.
Pence moved quick to issue an apology. "My remarks at the Republican Conference following the Supreme Court decision were thoughtless. I certainly did not intend to minimize any tragedy our nation has faced and I apologize," Pence said in a statement to the D.C. outlet.
UPDATE #53 at 2:50 p.m.: As we mentioned earlier, CNN and Fox News both had a few missteps in the immediate aftermath of this morning's complex decision. The two cable news networks' formal explanations follow:
"In his opinion, Chief Justice Roberts initially said that the individual mandate was not a valid exercise of Congressional power under the Commerce Clause. CNN reported that fact, but then wrongly reported that therefore the court struck down the mandate as unconstitutional. However, that was not the whole of the Court’s ruling. CNN regrets that it didn't wait to report out the full and complete opinion regarding the mandate. We made a correction within a few minutes and apologize for the error."
"We gave our viewers the news as it happened. When Justice Roberts said, and we read, that the mandate was not valid under the Commerce clause, we reported it. Bill Hemmer even added, be patient as we work through this. Then when we heard and read, that the mandate could be upheld under the government’s power to tax, we reported that as well—all within two minutes.
"By contrast, one other cable network was unable to get their Supreme Court reporter to the camera, and said as much. Another said it was a big setback for the President. Fox reported the facts, as they came in."
UPDATE #52 2:20 p.m.: Now that everyone's had time to digest this morning's big news, let's take a quick look at the current Obamacare ledes:
New York Times: "The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld most of President Obama’s health care overhaul law, saying it was authorized by Congress’s power to levy taxes. The vote was 5 to 4, with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. joining the court’s four more liberal members."
Wall Street Journal: "In a surprise conclusion to a constitutional showdown, Chief Justice John Roberts joined the Supreme Court's four liberals Thursday to uphold the linchpin of President Barack Obama's health plan, the individual mandate requiring citizens to carry insurance or pay a penalty."
Washington Post: "Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. on Thursday joined the liberal wing of the Supreme Court to save the heart of President Obama’s landmark health-care law, agreeing that the requirement for nearly all Americans to secure health insurance is permissible under Congress’s taxing authority."
Politico: "The Supreme Court’s stunning vindication of President Barack Obama’s health care law represents a huge victory for the president and a morale boost for his battered campaign in the short term—but it’s one with unpredictable consequences on the 2012 presidential election."
UPDATE #51 2:03 p.m: Politico's Emily Schultheis points out that while the White House may be celebrating, some congressional Democrats are treading a little more carefully:
"[A] handful of Democratic candidates in red states are walking a delicate line on the issue—not alienating the Democratic base by criticizing the law too harshly, but also not praising the decision quite as enthusiastically as many national Democrats or blue-state elected officials." Read more.
UPDATE #50 1:59 p.m.: Mitt Romney has promised to scrap Obamacare. Slate's Matthew Yglesias explains how—and why—he could make that happen:
"[O]nce the basic framework of the law is in place, it’ll be all but impossible to kill. That’s probably why no country that’s instituted a universal health insurance program has ever rolled it back—even strong conservatives like Margaret Thatcher in the United Kingdom or the current right-wing government in Canada leave existing programs in place. The problem for Democrats is that if Romney takes office in 2013, none of this stuff will have actually happened yet." Read more here.
UPDATE #49 1:53 p.m.: More from Alberto Gonzales, echoing a GOP talking point that has been in full circulation today: "This is why elections matter."
UPDATE #48 1:50 p.m.: Romney's camp says it's brought in more than $1 million in donations since the decision came out this morning, Politico reports.
UPDATE #47 1:46 p.m.: Former George W. Bush AG Alberto Gonzales on Fox News: "Listen, no matter who the judge is, you're going to disagree at some point or another with respect to decisions by judges, it's just the way it is. But I have a great deal of faith in John Roberts and the decision he rendered today."
UPDATE #46 1:42 p.m.: Once all of the law's provisions go into effect, more than nine out of 10 eligible Americans will have health insurance, according to most estimates.The Associated Press on those that who will remain without:
"An estimated 26 million people will remain without coverage once the law is fully implemented, including illegal immigrants, people who don't sign up and choose to face the fines instead, and those who can't afford it even with the subsidies. That number could be higher, depending on whether any states refuse the Medicaid expansion."
UPDATE #45 1:37 p.m.: Over on XX Factor, Sharon Lerner explains why women stand to gain the most from the health care decision:
"The bullet we just collectively dodged would have caused pain throughout the country, with women taking the hardest hit. That’s because women stand to gain the most from the health law." Read more here.
UPDATE #44 1:23 p.m.: There were no cameras in the courtroom, but here's a sketch of the scene inside as the decision was read.
UPDATE #43: 1:14 p.m.: More from Slate: Tom Scocca takes a look at Roberts' canny move to uphold the Affordable Care Act while gutting the Commerce Clause:
"There were two battles being fought in the Supreme Court over the Affordable Care Act. Chief Justice John Roberts—and Justice Anthony Kennedy—delivered victory to the right in the one that mattered." Read the whole thing.
UPDATE #42 1:05 p.m: Slate's David Weigel was outside the courthouse when the news came. He reports: "The Republicans around me registered their disgust succinctly. 'Are you kidding?' 'It's a tax?' 'FUCK!' " Read his post here.
UPDATE #41 12:52 p.m.: If Linda Greenhouse were a betting woman, she'd have made a bundle today. Here's what she predicted in a New York Times op-ed back in April:
"While I expect the statute to survive, I also have two other predictions. One is that however the case comes out, the chief justice will be in the majority and will write the controlling opinion. I don’t say 'majority opinion' because I don’t think there are five justices who will necessarily agree on a common rationale for their agreed-upon result. In addition, or as an alternative to upholding the individual mandate as an exercise of Congressional authority under the Commerce Clause, some may prefer to treat the individual mandate as a tax, squarely within Congress’s taxing power."
UPDATE #40 12:30 p.m.: Slate's Emily Bazelon explains how Chief Justice John Roberts found a way to save the health care law. Here's a taste:
"Left to their druthers, the four justices on the left—Breyer, Ginsburg, Kagan, and Sotomayor—would have gone down the Commerce Clause road with the Obama administration. They think that Congress did have the power under the Commerce Clause, as well as its authority to tax and spend, to enact Obamacare. Roberts disagreed." Read more.
UPDATE #39 at 12:18 p.m.: President Obama speaking from the White House: "Whatever the politics, today's decision was a victory for people all over this country."
More: "I know the debate over this law has been divisive. ... It should be pretty clear by now that I didn't do this because I believed it was good politics."
UPDATE #38 at 12:05 p.m.: Politico's Lucy McCalmont catches a nugget from Ginsburg that is sure to be uncomfortable for Team Romney:
"Writing on the subject of providing affordable insurance to those with preexisting conditions, Ginsburg noted that Massachusetts 'cracked [the] adverse selection problem' and highlighted briefs explaining 'the success of Massachusetts’ reforms.'
"Under the Massachusetts health system, most residents were required to buy insurance so that insurance companies wouldn’t be left only with sick customers – and thus skyrocketing premiums. 'As a result, federal lawmakers observed, Massachusetts succeeded where other States had failed,' Ginsburg wrote."
UPDATE #37 11:56 a.m.: Romney: "What the court did not do on its last day in session I will do on my first day if elected president of the United States, and that is I will act to repeal Obamacare. ....What the court did today was say that Obamacare does not violate the Constitution. What they did not do was say that Obamacare is good law or that it is good policy."
UPDATE #36 11:46 a.m.: Romney is set to speak soon but anyone hoping for the Republican to explain the second part of the GOP "repeal and replace" mantra shouldn't hold their breath. "He'll get more specific as the fall goes on," Vin Weber, who works with the campaign, tells CNN. "But we don't have to lay out a full alternative proposal to this today; we have well into the fall to do it."
UPDATE #35 11:45 a.m.: Slate's Matthew Yglesias explains the relatively overlooked Medicaid ruling. It's worth your time.
UPDATE #34 11:40 a.m.: Michele Bachmann, who was in the courtroom for the decision, tells CNN:"It really is a turning point in American history. We will never be the same again." More: "There will be no hope of economic recovery between now and the election. We have exhausted now our legal solutions to be able to rid the nation of Obamacare. Now we have to look for a political solution."
UPDATE #33 11:35 a.m.: Team Obama is having plenty of fun right now. Here's a snippet from a fundraising email blast they just sent out (via BBC News):
"It's a good day for the President. It's a good day for Mitt Romney, who had his individual mandate upheld in court. But more importantly, it's a great day for the millions of Americans that benefit from reforms in the Affordable Care Act. It's a celebration. Be merry."
UPDATE #32 11:31 a.m.: You know who is probably feeling mighty good right about now? Solicitor General Donald Verrilli. BuzzFeed has the audio from the Most Convincing Oral Argument, Ever.
UPDATE #31 11:29 a.m.: Democratic National Committee's executive director Patrick Gaspard has this to say immediately following the news: "it's constitutional. Bitches."
Roughly an hour later, however, the DNC director began walking back his meme-worthy quote. "I let my scotus excitement get the better of me," he tweets. "In all seriousness, this is an important moment in improving the lives of all Americans."
UPDATE #30 11:25 a.m.: Mitt Romney is set to speak at 11:45 a.m. CBS News reports that he'll be speaking from a podium with a sign that reads "Repeal & Replace Obamacare."
Meanwhile, a few of the men Romney beat in the GOP primary have already weighed in. Gingrich tweets: "Court has guaranteed this november most important election since 1860. Which American future- state control versus liberty will be decided." Santorum: "#SCOTUS outcome is major setback for freedom & biggest permanent tax increase in our nation’s history. Elections matter."
UPDATE #29 11:21 a.m.: Good news, swing staters: You can look forward to millions of dollars worth of outside spending to tell you how to feel about Obamacare!
Politico reports that conservative super-group Americans for Prosperity plans to launch a $9-million ad campaign targeting the law—with a focus on Roberts' ruling that the penalty people would need to pay if they don't follow the mandate is indeed a tax. "The Supreme Court’s ruled and President Obama’s now given us one of the biggest tax increases in history," AFP president Tim Phillips told the site. "We’re going to remind people of the disastrous components of this legislation."
UPDATE #28 11:15 a.m.: More from Toobin via Twitter: "Big winner today is don verrilli, solicitor general. Among losers is me, who was so critical of of his oral argument."
UPDATE #27 11:14 a.m.: SCOTUS Blog has this one paragraph summary of the ruling:
"The Affordable Care Act, including its individual mandate that virtually all Americans buy health insurance, is constitutional. There were not five votes to uphold it on the ground that Congress could use its power to regulate commerce between the states to require everyone to buy health insurance. However, five Justices agreed that the penalty that someone must pay if he refuses to buy insurance is a kind of tax that Congress can impose using its taxing power. That is all that matters. Because the mandate survives, the Court did not need to decide what other parts of the statute were constitutional, except for a provision that required states to comply with new eligibility requirements for Medicaid or risk losing their funding. On that question, the Court held that the provision is constitutional as long as states would only lose new funds if they didn't comply with the new requirements, rather than all of their funding."
UPDATE #26 11:11 a.m.: NPR's Andy Carvin has some sympathy for his colleagues at CNN: "As the guy who tweeted for NPR that Gabby Giffords was dead, I feel bad for those down the CNN production line who had to press the buttons."
UPDATE #25 11:10 a.m.: House Republicans are wasting little time in their bid to overturn the law themselves. Majority Leader Eric Cantor says the House will hold a vote on a full repeal during the week of July 9.
UPDATE #24 11:07 a.m.: Obama's expected to speak at 12:15 p.m.
UPDATE #22 11:06 a.m.: Jeffrey Toobin delivers this description of the chief justice via Twitter: "Roberts was red-eyed and unhappy as he read."
UPDATE #21 11:05 a.m.: CNN and Fox News had company in getting the decision wrong in the immediate aftermath of the announcement. Politico reports so did at least five lawmakers: "Reps. Dennis Ross, Aaron Schock, Virginia Foxx, Steven Palazzo and Buck McKeon all got it wrong - the individual mandate was actually upheld as a tax. The five lawmakers reacted in different ways after realizing their mistake."
UPDATE #20 11:02 a.m.: More from Roberts' narrowly-crafted opinion: "We do not consider whether the Act embodies sound policies. That judgment is entrusted to the Nation's elected leaders. We ask only whether Congress has the power under the Constitution to enact the challenged provisions."
UPDATE #19 11 a.m.: Still haven't seen an official Romney response. But if there's a silver lining for the presumptive GOP nominee, it is the fact that his "day one" promise to repeal Obamacare becomes that much more of a selling point for conservatives.
UPDATE #18 10:59 a.m.: Politico's Maggie Haberman on Republicans' spin efforts: "The messaging frame from the Republicans in response to the SCOTUS ruling now that it's out is becoming clearer, and without huge surprises - the calls for repeal, a base motivator, remain, as do the description of it as a tax, now affirmed by the high court."
UPDATE #17 at 10:55 a.m.: What's Sarah Palin thinking right now? We're glad you asked: "Obama lied to the American people. Again. He said it wasn't a tax. Obama lies; freedom dies."
UPDATE #16 at 10:52 a.m.: A little more on the Medicaid portion, which is being largely overshadowed by the individual mandate. From the NYT: "The decision did significantly restrict one major portion of the law: the expansion of Medicaid, the government health insurance program for low-income and sick people. The ruling give states some flexibility not to expand their Medicaid programs, without paying the same financial penalties that the law called for."
UPDATE #15 10:50 a.m.: CNN and the other networks are going wall-to-wall on all-things SCOTUS. Fox News, meanwhile, has taken a timeout to interview Rupert Murdoch about the looming News Corp. split.
UPDATE #14 10:48 a.m.: Majority Leader Harry Reid on the Senate floor: "No longer will Americans live in fear of losing their health insurance because they lose their job."
UPDATE #13 10:47 a.m.: More form the dissent: "The Act before us here exceeds federal power both in mandating the purchase of health insurance and in denying nonconsenting states all Medicaid funding. These parts of the Act are central to its design and operation, and all the Act's other provisions would not have been enacted without them. In our view it must follow that the entire statute is inoperative."
UPDATE #12 10:45 a.m.: Let's take a quick spin around the Web, where nearly everyone is playing it straight:
CNN: "UPHELD: 5-4 decision affirms Obamacare"
Fox News: "ObamaCare SURVIVES: Court Lets Stand Affordable Care Act, Individual Mandate"
MSNBC: "TOP COURT UPHOLDS HEALTH CARE LAW"
New York Times: "HEALTH LAW STANDS: Roberts Joins Majority in Affirming Mandate"
Wall Street Journal: "Court Upholds Health Mandate as Tax"
Washington Post: "SUPREME COURT UPHOLDS HEALTH-CARE LAW"
Politico: "Supreme Court upholds individual mandate"
Maybe the NY Post will give us a pun? Nope. "SUPREME COURT RULES: OBAMACARE UPHELD"
UPDATE #11 10:38 a.m.: Looks like CNN wasn't the only ones to get things wrong. Here's a Fox News screenshot.
UPDATE #10 10:37 a.m.: Here's the opinion everyone's digging through.
UPDATE #9 10:34 a.m.: No official word on when President Obama is going to respond to today's decision, but it's a safe bet he'll get behind a lectern at some point, likely in a few hours.
UPDATE #8 10:30 a.m.: Kennedy and co. write in the dissent: "In our view, the entire Act before us is invalid in its entirety." Which means, basically, that if Roberts would have sided with the conservative wing of the court, the entire law would have been thrown out.
UPDATE #7 10:29 a.m.: When everyone was predicting today's winners and losers, there's one entity that has fallen in the latter group that no one would have guessed: CNN. The cable news network was quick to report--wrongly--that the individual mandate was struck down. Here's a screen grab of the website from earlier.
UPDATE #6: 10:26 a.m. Joining Roberts in the majority: Elena Kagan, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor.
UPDATE #5 10:22 a.m: The Affordable Care Act, the landmark legislative achievement of President Obama's first term, will largely stand. Chief Justice John Roberts penned the majority decision: "The framers created a federal government of limited powers, and assigned to this court the duty of enforcing those limits. The court does so today but the court does not express any opinion on wisdom of the Affordable Care Act under the constitution. That judgment is reserved to the people."
UPDATE #4 10:16 a.m.: Still plenty of confusion out there, but it's looking increasingly like the ACA will stand. From SCOTUSblog: "The bottom line: the entire ACA is upheld, with the exception that the federal government's power to terminate states' Medicaid funds is narrowly read."
CNN, meanwhile, is quickly backtracking on it's earlier report that the mandate was invalidated.
UPDATE #3 10:12 a.m.: The health care ruling is out but as reporters race through the decision it appears too early to tell exactly what it means for the individual mandate. CNN is reporting that the court has ruled the mandate is invalid; SCOTUSblog and others, meanwhile, are saying that the mandate "survives as a tax."
UPDATE #2 10:03 a.m.: First ruling is out: The court has thrown out the so-called "stolen valor" case. You can read some background on that over at ABC News for now, but we're keeping our attention focused squarely on the day's biggest news.
UPDATE #1 9:59 a.m.: We're inching ever closer to the big announcement. A quick word on timing: the Supreme Court has two other rulings to issue today, and everyone's assuming those will come first. That means it'll probably be closer to 10:15 a.m. or 10:30 a.m. before we know the fate of Obamacare.
For those keeping track at home, it has been two years, three months and five days since the first lawsuits against the Affordable Act were filed. (h/t Politico's PULSE)
Thursday, June 28: Today is the day. The Supreme Court is expected to issue its long-awaited ruling on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act—better known as Obamacare—and its controversial centerpiece, the individual mandate, shortly after 10 a.m.
We'll be live-blogging the results and the flood of reactions as they come in, so refresh your page early and often for the latest. For more in-depth analysis, check out Slate's complete coverage of the ACA decision. (We'll also be providing links to other Slate coverage as it goes live on the site.)
Before we begin, the Associated Press reminds us of what is at stake today:
"The court is not just passing judgment on a major expansion of the social safety net, designed to cover an additional 30 million Americans with health insurance. It is doing so on the president's signature domestic legislative achievement and in the heat of his closely fought campaign for re-election."
There are currently four questions before the court, three of which have to do with the individual mandate that requires most Americans to have health insurance or pay a penalty.
1) Can the court review the mandate?
2) Is the individual mandate constitutional?
3) If not, can the rest of the law remain in affect without it?
4) Is the Medicaid expansion constitutional?
There is a small chance that, depending on the answer to question one, today's much-anticipated ruling may fail greatly to live up to expectations. (If the answer is "no" then the justices will skip over the next two questions and move on to Medicaid.) Basically, it appears to come down to whether the justices consider the penalty a "tax" or not.
A mid-19th century law (known as the Anti-Injunction Act) technically prohibits legal challenges to a tax until it has actually gone into effect. Because the insurance requirement does not kick in until 2014—and the penalty wouldn't be paid until 2014 tax forms are filed in April 2015—there is some uncertainty as to whether the justices have to wait until then to decide its constitutionality. If they decide they do, that would punt a decision until well after this November's election.
For a closer look at the other three questions, SCOTUSblog has a solid, plain-English look at the details.
As significant as today's ruling will be for the U.S. health system and the millions of Americans that will be affected by the law, it is also all but certain to play a dominant role in this November's election. Politico has a look at the best- and worst-case results for President Obama, Mitt Romney and the other key players—and how they'll try to spin the decision—here.