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Norton Finds Neither Roberts Decision or Use of Congress's Taxing Power Surprising


Location: Washington, DC

Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) today released this statement on the Supreme Court's decision to uphold the majority of the President's Affordable Care Act.

"The decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act is one of only about a half-dozen memorable Supreme Court cases in the history of this country. I have believed since the case was argued that Chief Justice John Roberts would be the swing vote, not Justice Anthony Kennedy, because Kennedy tipped his hand during oral arguments. In abandoning his conservative colleagues on the bench, the Chief Justice acted judiciously, not politically, exercising the presumption that a law passed by Congress is constitutional. I applaud the administration and Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr. for their understanding that the case for the individual mandate not only required briefing and arguing the Commerce Clause, but also the virtually unlimited taxing power of Congress, the sleeper tool in the case. As the House and Senate worked on the Affordable Care Act, members referred to paying a "penalty' for not purchasing health insurance because Republicans have made "tax' a dirty word in Congress. The court today ignored the talking points on both sides and looked to the law and to the reality of the virtually unlimited taxing power of Congress that has long been used to encourage behavior, whether it is raising taxes on cigarettes to discourage smoking, or taxing individuals who choose not to obtain health insurance."

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