So everybody is laughing at CNN, and I did too (on Facebook), because they initially reported that the Supreme Court had thrown out the individual mandate. But actually, their mistake is very understandable. If you look at the actual ruling, it’s over 60 pages long. Obviously news organizations aren’t going to parse the whole thing, they’re going to skim it to see what the “big picture” is and report that right away.
So, if you actually start reading this thing from the beginning, this is what you see, with my bolding (and this is all on the first two and a quarter pages, I’m just taking out some boring stuff):
NATIONAL FEDERATION OF INDEPENDENT BUSINESS ET AL. v. SEBELIUS, SECRETARY OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, ET AL.
CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE ELEVENTH CIRCUIT
No. 11–393. Argued March 26, 27, 28, 2012—Decided June 28, 2012*
In 2010, Congress enacted the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in order to increase the number of Americans covered by health insurance and decrease the cost of health care. One key provision is the individual mandate, which requires most Americans to maintain “minimum essential” health insurance coverage….
2 NATIONAL FEDERATION OF INDEPENDENT BUSINESS v. SEBELIUS
Held: The judgment is affirmed in part and reversed in part.
648 F. 3d 1235, affirmed in part and reversed in part. 1. CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS delivered the opinion of the Court …
2. CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS concluded in Part III–A that the individual mandate is not a valid exercise of Congress’s power under the Commerce Clause and the Necessary and Proper Clause. Pp. 16–30.
(a) The Constitution grants Congress the power to “regulate Commerce.” Art. I, §8, cl. 3 (emphasis added). The power to regulate commerce presupposes the existence of commercial activity to be regulated. This Court’s precedent reflects this understanding: As expansive as this Court’s cases construing the scope of the commerce power have been, they uniformly describe the power as reaching “activity.” E.g., United States v. Lopez, 514 U. S. 549, 560. The individual mandate, however, does not regulate existing commercial activity. It instead compels individuals to become active in commerce by purchasing a product, on the ground that their failure to do so affects interstate commerce.
Construing the Commerce Clause to permit Congress to regulate individuals precisely because they are doing nothing would open a new and potentially vast domain to congressional authority.
For anyone who actually believes the 5th grade version of the “checks and balances” in our government, the above should have been definitive. First, the ruling explicitly said that some parts of the
Act earlier ruling were held and some were not, and second, it went on to say the individual mandate was not a valid exercise of the Congress’ power. It was entirely understandable that CNN went to town based on the above.
To drive home the point (as many are saying), what if the federal government said, “We’re not interfering with abortion or a woman’s right to choose, but the IRS will increase your tax bill by $50,000 if you get an abortion.”