Nat'l Fed'n of Indep. Bus. v. Sebelius, Nos. 11–393

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Citation567 U.S. 519,183 L.Ed.2d 450,132 S.Ct. 2566
Decision Date28 June 2012
Parties NATIONAL FEDERATION OF INDEPENDENT BUSINESS et al., Petitioners, v. Kathleen SEBELIUS, Secretary of Health and Human Services, et al. Department of Health and Human Services, et al., Petitioners, v. Florida, et al. Florida, et al., Petitioners, v. Department of Health and Human Services et al.
Docket Number11–398,11–400.,Nos. 11–393

567 U.S. 519
132 S.Ct.
2566
183 L.Ed.2d 450

NATIONAL FEDERATION OF INDEPENDENT BUSINESS et al., Petitioners,
v.
Kathleen SEBELIUS, Secretary of Health and Human Services, et al.

Department of Health and Human Services, et al., Petitioners,
v.
Florida, et al.

Florida, et al., Petitioners,
v.
Department of Health and Human Services et al.

Nos. 11–393
11–398
11–400.

Supreme Court of the United States

Argued March 26, 27, 28, 2012.
Decided June 28, 2012.


Paul D. Clement, for Petitioners.

Edwin S. Kneedler, for Respondents.

H. Bartow Farr, III, appointed by this Court, as amicus curiae.

Michael A. Carvin, for respondents National Federation of Independent Business.

Donald B. Verrilli, Jr., Solicitor General, Washington, D.C., for Respondents.

Karen R. Harned, Washington, Randy E. Barnett, Washington, DC, Michael A. Carvin, Gregory G. Katsas, C. Kevin Marshall, Hashim M. Mooppan, Yaakov M. Roth, Jones Day, Washington, DC, for Private Petitioners.

132 S.Ct. 2576

Pamela Jo Bondi, Attorney General of Florida, Scott D. Makar, Solicitor General, Louis F. Hubener, Timothy D. Osterhaus, Blaine H. Winship, Tallahassee, FL, Paul D. Clement, Erin E. Murphy, Bancroft PLLC, Washington, DC, Greg Abbott, Attorney General of Texas, Austin, TX, Alan Wilson, Attorney General of South Carolina, Columbia, SC, Luther Strange, Attorney General of Alabama, Montgomery, AL, Bill Schuette, Attorney General of Michigan, Lansing, MI, Robert M. McKenna, Attorney General of Washington, Olympia, WA, Jon Bruning, Attorney General of Nebraska, Katherine J. Spohn, Special Counsel to the Attorney General Office of the Attorney General of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE, Mark L. Shurtleff, Attorney General of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT, James D. "Buddy" Caldwell, Attorney General of Louisiana, Baton Rouge, LA, John W. Suthers, Attorney General of Colorado, Denver, CO, Lawrence G. Wasden, Attorney General of Idaho, Boise, ID, Thomas W. Corbett, Jr., Governor, Linda L. Kelly, Attorney General Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Harrisburg, PA, Marty J. Jackley, Attorney General of South Dakota, Pierre, SD, Gregory F. Zoeller, Attorney General of Indiana, Indianapolis, IN, Samuel S. Olens, Attorney General of Georgia, Atlanta, GA, Joseph Sciarrotta, Jr., General Counsel, Office of Arizona Governor, Janice K. Brewer, Tom Horne, Attorney General of Arizona, Phoenix, AZ, Wayne Stenejhem, Attorney General of North Dakota, Bismarck, ND, Brian Sandoval, Governor of Nevada, Carson City, NV, Michael C. Geraghty, Attorney General of Alaska, Juneau, AK, Michael DeWine, Attorney General of Ohio, David B. Rivkin, Lee A. Casey, Baker & Hostetler LLP, Columbus, OH, Matthew Mead, Governor of Wyoming, Cheyenne, WY, William J. Schneider, Attorney General of Maine, Augusta, ME, J.B. Van Hollen, Attorney General of Wisconsin, Madison, WI, Michael B. Wallace, Counsel for the State of Mississippi by and through Governor Phil Bryant, Wise Carter Child & Caraway, P.A., Jackson, MS, Derek Schmidt, Attorney General of Kansas, Topeka, KS, Terry Branstad, Governor of Iowa, Des Moines, IA, for State Petitioners on Severability, State Petitioners on Medicade.

George W. Madison, General Counsel, Washington, D.C., M. Patricia Smith, Solicitor of Labor, Washington, D.C., William B. Schultz, Acting General Counsel, Kenneth Y. Choe, Deputy General Counsel, Washington, D.C., Donald B. Verrilli, Jr., Solicitor General, Tony West, Assistant Attorney General, Edwin S. Kneedler, Deputy Solicitor General, Beth S. Brinkmann, Deputy Assistant Attorney General, Leondra R. Kruger, Assistant to the Solicitor General, Mark B. Stern, Alisa B. Klein, Attorneys Department of Justice, Washington, D.C., for Respondents.

George W. Madison, General Counsel, Washington, D.C., M. Patricia Smith, Solicitor of Labor, Washington, D.C., William B. Schultz, Acting General Counsel, Kenneth Y. Choe, Deputy General Counsel, Washington, D.C., Donald B. Verrilli, Jr., Solicitor General, Tony West, Assistant Attorney General, Edwin S. Kneedler, Deputy Solicitor General, Beth S. Brinkmann, Deputy Assistant Attorney General, Joseph R. Palmore, Assistant to the Solicitor General, Mark B. Stern, Alisa B. Klein, Anisha Dasgupta, Dana Kaersvang, Attorneys Department of Justice, Washington, D.C., for Respondents (Severability).

132 S.Ct. 2577

Chief Justice ROBERTS announced the judgment of the Court and delivered the opinion of the Court with respect to Parts I, II, and III–C, an opinion with respect to Part IV, in which Justice BREYER and Justice KAGAN join, and an opinion with respect to Parts III–A, III–B, and III–D.

567 U.S. 530

Today we resolve constitutional challenges to two provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010: the individual mandate, which requires individuals to purchase a health insurance policy providing a minimum

567 U.S. 531

level of coverage; and the Medicaid expansion, which gives funds to the States on the condition that they provide specified health care to all citizens whose income falls below a certain threshold. We do not consider whether the Act embodies

567 U.S. 532

sound policies. That judgment is entrusted to the Nation's elected leaders. We ask only whether Congress has the power under the Constitution to enact the challenged provisions.

567 U.S. 533

In our federal system, the National Government possesses only limited powers; the States and the people retain the remainder. Nearly two centuries ago, Chief Justice Marshall observed that "the question respecting the extent of

567 U.S. 534

the powers actually granted" to the Federal Government " is perpetually arising, and will probably continue to arise, as long as our system shall exist." McCulloch v. Maryland, 4 Wheat. 316, 405, 4 L.Ed. 579 (1819). In this case we must again determine whether the Constitution grants Congress powers it now asserts, but which many States and individuals believe it does not possess. Resolving this controversy requires us to examine both the limits of the Government's power, and our own limited role in policing those boundaries.

The Federal Government "is acknowledged by all to be one of enumerated powers." Ibid. That is, rather than granting general authority to perform all the conceivable functions of government, the Constitution lists, or enumerates, the Federal Government's powers. Congress may, for example, "coin Money," "establish Post Offices," and "raise and support Armies." Art. I, § 8, cls. 5, 7, 12. The enumeration of powers is also a limitation of powers, because "[t]he enumeration presupposes something not enumerated." Gibbons v. Ogden, 9 Wheat. 1, 195, 6 L.Ed. 23 (1824). The Constitution's express conferral of some powers makes clear that it does not grant others. And the Federal Government "can exercise

567 U.S. 535

only the powers granted to it." McCulloch, supra, at 405.

Today, the restrictions on government power foremost in many Americans' minds are likely to be affirmative prohibitions, such as contained in the Bill of Rights. These affirmative prohibitions come into play, however, only where the Government possesses authority to act in the first place. If no enumerated power authorizes Congress to pass a certain law, that law may not be enacted, even if it would not violate any of the express prohibitions in the Bill of Rights or elsewhere in the Constitution.

Indeed, the Constitution did not initially include a Bill of Rights at least partly

132 S.Ct. 2578

because the Framers felt the enumeration of powers sufficed to restrain the Government. As Alexander Hamilton put it, "the Constitution is itself, in every rational sense, and to every useful purpose, A BILL OF RIGHTS ." The Federalist No. 84, p. 515 (C. Rossiter ed. 1961). And when the Bill of Rights was ratified, it made express what the enumeration of powers necessarily implied: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution ... are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." U.S. Const., Amdt. 10. The Federal Government has expanded dramatically over the past two centuries, but it still must show that a constitutional grant of power authorizes each of its actions. See, e.g., United States v. Comstock, 560 U.S. 126, 130 S.Ct. 1949, 176 L.Ed.2d 878 (2010).

The same does not apply to the States, because the Constitution is not the source of their power. The Constitution may restrict state governments—as it does, for example, by forbidding them to deny any person the equal protection of the laws. But where such prohibitions do not apply, state governments do not need constitutional authorization to act. The States thus can and do perform many of the vital functions of modern government—punishing street crime, running public schools, and zoning property for development, to name but a few—even though the Constitution's text does

567 U.S. 536

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604 practice notes
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    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. District of New Mexico
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    ...individuals but prohibited from charging them rates necessary to pay for their coverage." Nat'l Fed'n of Indep. Bus. v. Sebelius, 567 U.S. 519, 548 (2012). The ACA contemplates three kinds of programs -- two temporary and one permanent -- to ameliorate that problem. See 42 U.S.C. §§ 18061-6......
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    ...the number of Americans covered by health insurance and decrease the cost of health care." Nat'l Fed'n of Indep. Bus. v. Sebelius , 567 U.S. 519, 538, 132 S.Ct. 2566, 183 L.Ed.2d 450 (2012). The ACA requires most Americans to maintain "minimum essential coverage," 26 U.S.C. § 5000A(a), whic......
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    ..."pregnant women, children, needy families, the blind, the elderly, and the disabled ...." Nat’l Fed’n of Indep. Bus. v. Sebelius (NFIB ), 567 U.S. 519, 541, 132 S.Ct. 2566, 183 L.Ed.2d 450 (2012). Participation in Medicaid is voluntary, but to receive federal funding, states must have an ap......
  • Planned Parenthood S. Atl v. Baker, No. 18-2133
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    ...covered medical services, and establishing reimbursement standards to the states. See 42 U.S.C. § 1396 et seq. ; NFIB v. Sebelius , 567 U.S. 519, 541-42, 132 S.Ct. 2566, 183 L.Ed.2d 450 (2012). Cooperating states then implement the program, agreeing to abide by federal conditions in return ......
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    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. District of New Mexico
    • October 19, 2018
    ...individuals but prohibited from charging them rates necessary to pay for their coverage." Nat'l Fed'n of Indep. Bus. v. Sebelius, 567 U.S. 519, 548 (2012). The ACA contemplates three kinds of programs -- two temporary and one permanent -- to ameliorate that problem. See 42 U.S.C. §§ 18061-6......
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    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • July 14, 2020
    ...the number of Americans covered by health insurance and decrease the cost of health care." Nat'l Fed'n of Indep. Bus. v. Sebelius , 567 U.S. 519, 538, 132 S.Ct. 2566, 183 L.Ed.2d 450 (2012). The ACA requires most Americans to maintain "minimum essential coverage," 26 U.S.C. § 5000A(a), whic......
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    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (6th Circuit)
    • July 24, 2019
    ..."pregnant women, children, needy families, the blind, the elderly, and the disabled ...." Nat’l Fed’n of Indep. Bus. v. Sebelius (NFIB ), 567 U.S. 519, 541, 132 S.Ct. 2566, 183 L.Ed.2d 450 (2012). Participation in Medicaid is voluntary, but to receive federal funding, states must have an ap......
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    • October 29, 2019
    ...covered medical services, and establishing reimbursement standards to the states. See 42 U.S.C. § 1396 et seq. ; NFIB v. Sebelius , 567 U.S. 519, 541-42, 132 S.Ct. 2566, 183 L.Ed.2d 450 (2012). Cooperating states then implement the program, agreeing to abide by federal conditions in return ......
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    • Georgetown Journal of Gender and the Law Nbr. XXII-2, January 2021
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