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The information on Groklaw is not intended to constitute legal advice. While Mark is a lawyer and he has asked other lawyers and law students to contribute articles, all of these articles are offered to help educate, not to provide specific legal advice. They are not your lawyers.

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Direct Tax Clause | 355 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
Explaining the Legalese of the US Supreme Court's Ruling on the Affordable Care Act ~ pj
Authored by: tknarr on Sunday, July 01 2012 @ 12:30 PM EDT
The Affordable Care Actís requirement that certain individuals pay a financial penalty for not obtaining health insurance may reasonably be characterized as a tax. Because the Constitution permits such a tax, it is not our role to forbid it, or to pass upon its wisdom or fairness.

I think the court did in fact rule on the act's constitutionality as a tax, and said right there that it is. It falls within the kinds of taxes the Constitution permits Congress to levy, it's not the Court's job to say Congress shouldn't enact that tax. If the voters don't want Congress to enact that tax then they need to take that up with Congress.

[ Reply to This | Parent | # ]

Explaining the Legalese of the US Supreme Court's Ruling on the Affordable Care Act ~ pj
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, July 01 2012 @ 05:42 PM EDT
Because that issue was not before the court and by default if the issue is not before the court it is assumed in the most positive light thus the act is assumed to be constitutional.

Except the issue was before the Court - as PJ explains the Government raised it as a potential way of looking at it. And the Roberts opinion clearly spells out that for purposes of the Anti-Injunction Act, it's what Congress declares it that matters, but in terms of the Constitution, it's what it actually "quacks" like that matters - in this case it's charged on your taxes, it's collected by IRS, it's a tax.

[ Reply to This | Parent | # ]

Explaining the Legalese of the US Supreme Court's Ruling on the Affordable Care Act ~ pj
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, July 01 2012 @ 06:57 PM EDT
Broccoli is a total red herring. Whoever brought it up in the pleadings was
being
very mischievious. It is no concern of anyone's else's whether some person eats

broccoli or not. In economists' terms there are no external effects on others.
So
there is no reason for government to care whether individuals eat it or not.
With health insurance there is a huge moral hazard, which does impose large
external effects on other people, and gives a solid reason why the government
has a rationale for forcing people to take health insurance.
The moral hazard is as follows. Young and healthy people do not wish to pay
for health insurance because (1) they see themselves as being at small risk for

illness, and (2) because they know if they do become ill they will not be turned

away for emergency treatment. The same people might think they don't need
home insurance for reason (1), but they pay for it anyway because they know
there is no (2): if their house burns down they are going to pay for the loss
all
by themselves. This is the moral hazard of health care, in a caring society
people do not bear the full cost burden of illness even if they are not insured.

Actually, it's a bit stronger than that: for most people their house never burns

down; but everyone is going to die eventually, and almost everyone will run up
substantial medical expenses before they die. Who should pay for these,
society, or the individual, through (compulsory) contributions to a medical
insurance scheme?

[ Reply to This | Parent | # ]

Explaining the Legalese of the US Supreme Court's Ruling on the Affordable Care Act ~ pj
Authored by: PJ on Sunday, July 01 2012 @ 10:48 PM EDT
The reason is was declared constitutional under Congress's
tax powers is because the tax powers are very broad. Those
powers are already "adjudicated" and they have them already.
So Roberts saw no escape from reality, which is that
Congress has the power to tax in the Consitution and there's
no one, not a court, not a vote, nothing, that can change
that, assuming the form of government stays what it is.

So it is Constitutional. Congress can change its mind
about wanting to tax this way if it so chooses, but it
can't find a way to make this law unConstitutional. It
forever is.

[ Reply to This | Parent | # ]

Direct Tax Clause
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, July 05 2012 @ 01:13 PM EDT
The minority was unfortunately right in that Roberts did not pay attention to
the Direct Tax Clause. If it's a tax, it's a direct tax, and therefore not
constitutional as written.

The annoying part is that if it were written as a tax *credit* or *deduction* it
would clearly be constitutional. Conclusion: Congress is SLOPPY.

[ Reply to This | Parent | # ]

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