Roberts: Americans Cannot Avoid Taxation Through Inactivity

By Matt Cover | June 28, 2012 | 12:23 PM EDT

( – Siding with the four Supreme Court liberals, Chief Justice John Roberts said Americans cannot avoid taxation by choosing not to act.

“First, and most importantly, it is abundantly clear the Constitution does not guarantee that individuals may avoid taxation through inactivity,” Roberts wrote for the 5-4 majority.

Roberts said that while the Constitution protects Americans from regulation if they choose not to engage in a regulated activity, it does not protect them from taxation if they choose not to engage in a taxed activity.

“The Court today holds that our Constitution protects us from federal regulation under the Commerce Clause so long as we abstain from the regulated activity. But from its creation, the Constitution has made no such promise with respect to taxes.”

Roberts said that his decision upholding the mandate as a tax, rather than as a use of the Commerce Clause, does not create any new federal powers. Instead he said it merely confirms that Congress used an existing power appropriately.

“Sustaining the mandate as a tax depends only on whether Congress has properly exercised its taxing power to encourage purchas¬ing health insurance, not whether it can. Upholding the individual mandate under the Taxing Clause thus does not recognize any new federal power. It determines that Congress has used an existing one.”