Justice Roberts: Individual Mandate Is a Tax; 'Not Our Role to Forbid It, or to Pass Upon Its Wisdom'

June 28, 2012 - 12:43 PM

(CNSNews.com) - Chief Justice John Roberts joined liberal Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, and Stephen Breyer in upholding the Democrats' health care law on a 5-4 vote.

Writing for the court, Roberts concluded the individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act is constitutional because, “The Federal Government does have the power to impose a tax on those without health insurance. Section 5000A is therefore constitutional, because it can reasonably be read as a tax."

Chief Justice John Roberts (AP Photo)

Chief Justice John Roberts (AP Photo)

In his majority opinion, Roberts wrote, “The Affordable Care Act’s requirement that certain individuals pay a financial penalty for not obtaining health insurance may reasonably be characterized as a tax. Because the Constitution permits such a tax, it is not our role to forbid it, or to pass upon its wisdom or fairness.”

Later, Roberts addressed the question of how much control Congress can have over an individual's behavior:

“Congress’s authority under the taxing power is limited to requiring an individual to pay money into the Federal Treasury, no more. If a tax is properly paid, the Government has no power to compel or punish individuals subject to it. We do not make light of the severe burden that taxation—especially taxation motivated by a regulatory purpose—can impose. But imposition of a tax nonetheless leaves an individual with a lawful choice to do or not do a certain act, so long as he is willing to pay a tax levied on that choice.”