Chief Justice John Roberts held in his majority opinion today that Obamacare’s individual mandate may be considered a constitutional tax rather than an unconstitutional mandate.
Justices Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas, and Alito forcefully disagree with Roberts in their dissent. “[W]e cannot rewrite the statute to be what it is not,” the four Justices write. “[W]e have never—never—treated as a tax an exaction which faces up to the critical difference between a tax and a penalty, and explicitly denominates the exaction a ‘penalty.’ Eighteen times in §5000A itself and elsewhere throughout the Act, Congress called the exaction in §5000A(b) a ‘penalty.’”
The dissenting Justices also argue that “judicial tax-writing is particularly troubling,” since the Constitution requires tax bills to originate in the House of Representatives, “the legislative body most accountable to the people, where legislators must weigh the need for the tax against the terrible price they might pay at their next election, which is never more than two years off.”