567 U.S. 519 (2012), 11-393, National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius

Docket Nº:11-393, 11-398, 11-400
Citation:567 U.S. 519, 132 S.Ct. 2566, 183 L.Ed.2d 450, 80 U.S.L.W. 4579, 23 Fla.L.Weekly Fed. S 480
Opinion Judge:ROBERTS, J.
Party Name:NATIONAL FEDERATION OF INDEPENDENT BUSINESS, et al., Petitioners (No. 11-393) v. KATHLEEN SEBELIUS, SECRETARY OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, et al. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, et al., Petitioners (No. 11-398) v. FLORIDA et al. FLORIDA, et al., Petitioners (No. 11-400) v. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES et al
Attorney:Robert A. Long argued the cause, as amicus curiae appointed by the court, in No. 11-398. Donald B. Verrilli, Jr. argued the cause for petitioners in No. 11-398 and respondents in No. 11-400. Gregory G. Katsas argued the cause for respondents in No. 11-398. Paul D. Clement argued the cause for pet...
Judge Panel:Roberts, C. J., announced the judgment of the Court and delivered the opinion of the Court with respect to Parts I, II, and III-C, in which Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan, JJ., joined; an opinion with respect to Part IV, in which Breyer and Kagan, JJ., joined; and an opinion with respect ...
Case Date:June 28, 2012
Court:United States Supreme Court
 
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Page 519

567 U.S. 519 (2012)

132 S.Ct. 2566, 183 L.Ed.2d 450, 80 U.S.L.W. 4579, 23 Fla.L.Weekly Fed. S 480

NATIONAL FEDERATION OF INDEPENDENT BUSINESS, et al., Petitioners (No. 11-393)

v.

KATHLEEN SEBELIUS, SECRETARY OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, et al.

DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, et al., Petitioners (No. 11-398)

v.

FLORIDA et al. FLORIDA, et al., Petitioners (No. 11-400)

v.

DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES et al

Nos. 11-393, 11-398, 11-400

United States Supreme Court

June 28, 2012

Argued March 26, 2012.

Argued March 27, 2012.

Argued March 28, 2012.

ON WRITS OF CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE ELEVENTH CIRCUIT.

Florida v. United States HHS, 648 F.3d 1235 (11th Cir. Fla., 2011)

The court of appeals' judgment was reversed insofar as it struck down § 5000A and permitted withdrawal of all Medicaid funding under § 1396c. The judgment was otherwise affirmed. 5-4 Decision; 3 opinions; 1 concurrence in part and dissent in part; 2 dissents.

SYLLABUS

[183 L.Ed.2d 460] [132 S.Ct. 2571] In 2010, Congress enacted the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in order to increase the number of Americans covered by health insurance and decrease the cost of health care. One key provision is the individual mandate, which requires most Americans to maintain " minimum essential" health insurance coverage. 26 U.S.C. § 5000A. For individuals who are not exempt, and who do not receive health insurance through an employer or government program, the means of satisfying the requirement is to purchase insurance from a private company. Beginning in 2014, [132 S.Ct. 2572] those who do not comply with the mandate must make a " [s]hared responsibility payment" to the Federal Government. § 5000A(b)(1). The Act provides that this " penalty" will be paid to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) with an individual's taxes, and " shall be assessed and collected in the same manner" as tax penalties. § § 5000A(c), (g)(1).

Another key provision of the Act is the Medicaid expansion. The current Medicaid program offers federal funding to States to assist pregnant women, children, needy families, the blind, the elderly, and the disabled in obtaining medical care. 42 U.S.C. § 1396d(a). The Affordable Care Act expands the scope of the Medicaid program and increases the number of individuals the States must cover. For example, the Act requires state programs to provide Medicaid coverage by 2014 to adults with incomes up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level, whereas many States now cover adults with children only if their income is considerably lower, and do not cover childless adults at all. § 1396a(a)(10)(A)(i)(VIII). The Act increases federal funding to cover the States' costs in expanding Medicaid coverage. § 1396d(y)(1). But if a State does not comply with the Act's new coverage requirements, it may lose

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not only the federal funding for those requirements, but all of its federal Medicaid funds. § 1396c.

Twenty-six States, several individuals, and the National Federation of Independent Business brought suit in Federal District Court, challenging the constitutionality of the individual mandate and the Medicaid expansion. The Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit upheld the Medicaid expansion as a valid exercise of Congress's spending power, but concluded that Congress lacked authority to enact the individual mandate. Finding the mandate severable from the Act's other provisions, the Eleventh Circuit left the rest of the Act intact.

Held:

The judgment is affirmed in part and reversed in part.

648 F.3d 1235, affirmed in part and reversed in part.

1. Chief Justice Roberts delivered the opinion of the Court with respect to Part II, concluding that the Anti-Injunction Act does not bar this suit.

The Anti-Injunction Act provides that " no suit for the purpose of restraining the assessment or collection of any tax shall be maintained in any court by any person," 26 U.S.C. § 7421(a), [183 L.Ed.2d 461] so that those subject to a tax must first pay it and then sue for a refund. The present challenge seeks to restrain the collection of the shared responsibility payment from those who do not comply with the individual mandate. But Congress did not intend the payment to be treated as a " tax" for purposes of the Anti-Injunction Act. The Affordable Care Act describes the payment as a " penalty," not a " tax." That label cannot control whether the payment is a tax for purposes of the Constitution, but it does determine the application of the Anti-Injunction Act. The Anti-Injunction Act therefore does not bar this suit. Pp. 543-546, 183 L.Ed.2d, at 470-472.

2. Chief Justice Roberts concluded in Part III-A that the individual mandate is not a valid exercise of Congress's power under the Commerce Clause and the Necessary and Proper Clause. Pp. 547-561, 183 L.Ed.2d, at 473-482.

(a) The Constitution grants Congress the power to " regulate Commerce." Art. I, § 8, cl. 3 (emphasis added). The power to regulate commerce presupposes the existence of commercial activity to be regulated. This Court's precedent reflects this understanding: As expansive as this Court's cases construing the scope of the commerce power have been, they uniformly describe the power as reaching " activity." [132 S.Ct. 2573] E.g., United States v. Lopez, 514 U.S. 549, 560, 115 S.Ct. 1624, 131 L.Ed.2d 626. The individual mandate, however, does not regulate existing commercial activity. It instead compels individuals to become active in commerce by purchasing a product, on the ground that their failure to do so affects interstate commerce.

Construing the Commerce Clause to permit Congress to regulate individuals precisely because they are doing nothing would open a new and

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potentially vast domain to congressional authority. Congress already possesses expansive power to regulate what people do. Upholding the Affordable Care Act under the Commerce Clause would give Congress the same license to regulate what people do not do. The Framers knew the difference between doing something and doing nothing. They gave Congress the power to regulate commerce, not to compel it. Ignoring that distinction would undermine the principle that the Federal Government is a government of limited and enumerated powers. The individual mandate thus cannot be sustained under Congress's power to " regulate Commerce." Pp. 547-558, 183 L.Ed.2d, at 473-480.

(b) Nor can the individual mandate be sustained under the Necessary and Proper Clause as an integral part of the Affordable Care Act's other reforms. Each of this Court's prior cases upholding laws under that Clause involved exercises of authority derivative of, and in service to, a granted power. E.g., United States v.

Comstock, 560 U.S. 126, 130 S.Ct. 1949, 176 L.Ed.2d 878. The individual mandate, by contrast, vests Congress with the extraordinary ability to create the necessary predicate to the exercise of an enumerated power and draw within its regulatory scope those who would otherwise be outside of it. Even if the individual mandate is " necessary" to the Affordable Care Act's other reforms, such an expansion of federal power is not a " proper" means for making those reforms effective. Pp. 558-561, 183 L.Ed.2d, at 480-482.

3. Chief Justice Roberts concluded [183 L.Ed.2d 462] in Part III-B that the individual mandate must be construed as imposing a tax on those who do not have health insurance, if such a construction is reasonable.

The most straightforward reading of the individual mandate is that it commands individuals to purchase insurance. But, for the reasons explained, the Commerce Clause does not give Congress that power. It is therefore necessary to turn to the Government's alternative argument: that the mandate may be upheld as within Congress's power to " lay and collect Taxes." Art. I, § 8, cl. 1. In pressing its taxing power argument, the Government asks the Court to view the mandate as imposing a tax on those who do not buy that product. Because " every reasonable construction must be resorted to, in order to save a statute from unconstitutionality," Hooper v.

California, 155 U.S. 648, 657, 15 S.Ct. 207, 39 L.Ed. 297, the question is whether it is " fairly possible" to interpret the mandate as imposing such a tax, Crowell v. Benson, 285 U.S. 22, 62, 52 S.Ct. 285, 76 L.Ed. 598. Pp. 561-563, 183 L.Ed.2d, at 482-483.

4. Chief Justice Roberts delivered the opinion of the Court with respect to Part III-C, concluding that the individual mandate may be upheld as within Congress's power under the Taxing Clause. Pp. 563-574, 183 L.Ed.2d, at 483-490.

(a) The Affordable Care Act describes the " [s]hared responsibility payment" as a " penalty," not a " tax." That label is fatal to the application

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