A Tax, But By Another Name

To many conservatives, John Roberts' decision to uphold Barack Obama's health care law was a betrayal of shared principles. But while Roberts split from the court's conservative bloc, he rejected the logic of its liberal wing as well, instead saving the President's signature legislation with an argument that Obama himself specifically disclaimed.

The core of the government's case was that the individual mandate, which requires virtually all Americans to buy insurance or else pay a fine, was permissible under the commerce clause. The court's four liberals agreed. Not Roberts. The framers of the Constitution gave Congress "the power to regulate commerce,...

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