The Supreme Courts Decision On The Affordable Care Act: Abrogating Article III Of The Constitution
Journal of Business Case Studies (JBCS)
In National Federation of Independent Business v. Katherine Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services, Case No. 11393, the Supreme Court of the United States affirmed most of the 2010 Affordable Care Act (ACA). In holding the ACA as valid (constitutional), Chief Justice Roberts reasoned that the taxing power in the U.S. Constitution was the reason that the law was enforceable. Although a strong dissent on such reasoning was written by four other Justices, Roberts also wrote that laws are
... entrusted to our nations elected leaders, who can be thrown out of office if the people disagree with them. Roberts also wrote that the Commerce Clause in the U.S. Constitution did not give Congress authority to pass the ACA. Moreover, Congress could not impose unfunded mandates on the States to expand Medicaid. In so writing, Roberts disposed of the chief arguments of those in favor of the law and provided a bone to those who opposed it. But, by then holding that Congress taxing power was sufficient to uphold the law, Roberts ignored the Federal Anti-Injunction statute and called into question the ability of the Supreme Court to hold a law passed by Congress entirely unconstitutional. By writing that, in effect, the Court should defer to Acts of Congress, Roberts attempted a finesse first exercised by Chief Justice John Marshall in Marbury v. Madison in 1803. While it may seem as if he intended to demonstrate the same legal adroitness of Marbury, instead he deferred to the wishes of Congress, going through legal gymnastics to uphold a law that many scholars saw as indefensible, and damaged the power of the Supreme Court given to it in Article III immeasurably.