Today in the Supreme Court


Unless you’ve been away from a news source all day, you’ve probably heard that the Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, as constitutional by a vote of 5-4. Probably the biggest surprise was that Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the decision for the majority, while perennial swing vote Anthony Kennedy sided with Justices Scalia, Thomas and Alito in a fairly whiny dissent. You can read the decision here.

The fun started when both CNN and Fox News jumped the gun in their reporting. See, the decision said that the individual mandate (the big issue before the court) could not be upheld by the Commerce Clause, and in their rush to get the news on the air first, reported that the mandate had been struck down. If they’d waited just a little longer, they’d have heard Chief Justice Roberts say that it could be upheld under Congress’s power to tax. CNN and Fox weren’t the only people embarrassed by the mistake. Republican lawmakers celebrated on Twitter, only to erase those tweets later.

Buzzfeed has been on fire today tracking reactions. There’s the people moving to Canada to flee government-run health care, people who think America died today, and Facebook/Tumblr memes.

The round table at Slate between Dahlia Lithwick, Walter Dellinger, Emily Bazelon and Judge Richard Posner has been terrific this week on everything the Supreme Court has done this term, and their ACA coverage is no exception.

In the Atlantic, Daniel Epps argues that Roberts is taking a page from John Marshall and Marbury v Madison.

The Tea Party and some Republican congressmen lose their collective shit over the verdict.

David Bernstein at the Volokh Conspiracy theorizes that Roberts changed his vote and that the joint dissent was originally a majority opinion.

Brian Spears is Senior Poetry Editor of The Rumpus and the author of A Witness in Exile (Louisiana Literature Press, 2011). His poem “Upon Reading That Andromeda Will One Day Devour Triangulum and Come For Us Next” was featured in Season 9 of Motion Poems. More from this author →