The Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision holding the Obamacare individual mandate is constitutional was based on grounds not addressed by the parties to the suit. Thus debate was squelched on the most vitally important issue presented in this case: How much power does the federal government have to control the lives of Americans and dictate our individual behaviors in any and all ways it chooses?
The answer, according to the Court, is that the federal government has complete and total control over all of us–it has the power to regulate everything we do and everything we choose not to do–provided Congress taxes the income of anyone who fails to comply with the government’s dictates.
At issue in the case was the constitutionality of the Affordable Care and Patient Protection Act’s (“Obamacare”) requirement that all Americans purchase private health insurance as a condition of drawing breath in this country.
The Obama administration first sought to justify this requirement–called the individual mandate–as a lawful exercise of the federal government’s power to regulate commerce under the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution. The Court majority rejected that argument, ruling the Commerce Clause allows the federal government to regulate existing commerce but precludes forcing Americans to engage in commerce in the future.
The Court next considered whether the Obamacare financial levy on people who fail to comply with the individual mandate is a penalty or a tax. Finding the financial sanction to be a tax, the majority concluded the entire individual mandate is constitutional.