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Health Care Before The Court

Jon Stewart Rants Against CNN's Blown Supreme Court Coverage

When the clock struck 10 a.m. on Thursday, the race was on to be the first news organization to report on the Supreme Court's historic health care ruling.

"Which news organization would be the first to speak of the great decision?" Stewart said Thursday. "Who would emerge from the chaos as today's grand champion of news first-iness?"

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After Health Care Ruling, GOP Hits Rewind As Democrats Look To The Future

The fallout from the Supreme Court's historic ruling Thursday upholding the health care reform law clarified a key distinction between the two parties. Republicans reaffirmed their commitment to turning back the clock and Democrats insisted on letting go of past battles and moving on.

"The Supreme Court has spoken. The matter is settled," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV). "With millions of Americans still struggling in this tough economy, we can't look back. We need to look forward."

"Now that all three branches of government have ratified the law, the time for quarreling is over. The time for disputing its validity is over," said Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY). "Congress should now return to its full time focus: the issue of jobs and the economy."

"Politics be damned, this is about what we came to do," said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).

Republican sang a different tune, reaffirming their commitment to repealing 'Obamacare' and announcing they will hold yet another vote to do so.

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HCR

Supreme Court Muffles Both Sides' Claims Of 'Judicial Activism'

For years, Republicans carried the flag in the war against activist judges, a war that peaked during President Bush's second term, with savage battles over federal court appointments and the late Terri Schiavo. Under President Obama, Democrats picked up their banner, blaming Bush's appointees for gutting the campaign finance system in favor of the ultra-wealthy. Now nobody knows what to think.

Two landmark decisions by the Supreme Court this week, Thursday's ruling in favor of the Affordable Care Act and Monday's ruling overturning portions of Arizona's SB 1070, have complicated both sides' claims that they are the true guardians of an independent judiciary.

In the days leading up to the decision, liberal commentators preemptively lamented that the judicial branch was likely lost for a generation as a credible institution.

A ruling overturning health care reform "would mean that the Supreme Court had officially entered an era where they were frankly willing to overturn liberal legislation just because they don't like it," Kevin Drum wrote before the decision. "Pile that on top of Bush v. Gore and Citizens United and you have a Supreme Court that's pretty explicitly chosen up sides in American electoral politics."

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Former GOP Sen. Bob Bennett: 'Health Care Reform Is Obviously Here To Stay'

Former Utah Sen. Bob Bennett, a Republican who lost his party's nomination in 2010 -- in part due to his past work with Democrats on health care reform -- told TPM that he had few complaints about Thursday's Supreme Court ruling.

"I'm delighted to see any kind of rein on the Commerce Clause, because I think the Commerce Clause has been used farther than it should have," Bennett said. "I can't really complain about the upholding of the idea of the individual mandate, because I had an individual mandate in my own bill. The system won't work without it. You don't have a big enough risk pool to pay for everything if you don't have everyone in it. And that's the purpose of the individual mandate, to get everyone in the risk pool, and then the numbers will work.

Bennett ultimately voted against the Affordable Care Act, though he co-wrote a bill in 2009 that included a requirement that Americans maintain insurance. He said it was possible to believe the law is simultaneously constitutional and bad policy. "The point [Chief Justice John Roberts] makes, that something can be a bad bill and still be constitutional, is still a valid point. And that's a point Sen. McConnell made today, that just because a bad bill is constitutional, we don't have to believe it's sound policy.

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What The 'Obamacare' Decision Means For Medicaid

In a surprise move in its decision to uphold the 'Obamacare' mandate, the Supreme Court declared that states may opt out of the law's Medicaid expansion without losing all federal funds for the program.

"In the 47 year history of the program, there has never been a successful challenge to any of the Medicaid expansions, so this was rather unusual," said Ron Pollack, director of the consumer group Families USA.

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Former Michigan GOP Spokesman Asks If 'Armed Rebellion' Needed Over Supreme Court Ruling

Like many conservatives, Matt Davis, the former spokesman for the Michigan Republican Party, was upset that the Supreme Court upheld most of President Obama's health care law on Thursday.

But unlike those who simply saw it as a rallying cry to elect more conservatives in November, Davis wants to know whether an "armed rebellion" will be necessary to overturn the law.

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Did The Supreme Court Expose A Big 'Obamacare' Tax Lie?

The Supreme Court's narrow decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act's insurance mandate as a valid exercise of Congress' taxing power has reignited a spin war over whether Democrats broke their pledge not to raise middle-class taxes, and whether they misled the public by insisting the mandate was not a tax during the contentious health care reform debate.

After all, back in September 2009, President Obama insisted to ABC News, "for us to say that you've got to take a responsibility to get health insurance is absolutely not a tax increase. ... I absolutely reject that notion."

Within moments of the ruling Republicans pounced.

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Vicki Kennedy, Pelosi Praise Late Sen. Kennedy For Pushing 'The Cause Of My Life'

Health care reform and the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, who spent decades pushing for universal health care coverage, are often mentioned hand-in-hand.

Kennedy's wife, Vicki Kennedy, reiterated her late husband's commitment to the cause of health care Thursday, but warned that the fight to implement all of the health care reform act's provisions isn't over:

I applaud the decision by the United States Supreme Court this morning, upholding the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act. We still have much work to do to implement the law, and I hope we can all come together now to complete that work.  The stakes are too high for us to do otherwise. As my late husband Senator Edward Kennedy said: "What we face is above all a moral issue; that at stake are not just the details of policy, but fundamental principles of social justice and the character of our country."

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President Obama Initially Heard Mandate Had Been Overturned

President Obama rode the same emotional rollercoaster as millions of Americans watching cable news on Thursday, as the first reports to reach him via CNN and FOX erroneously declared that the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate had been struck down.

The president remained calm in the face of what would have been devastating news for his signature legislation, according to senior White House officials. One to two minutes passed before White House Counsel Kathryn Ruemmler entered the room flashing two thumbs up to signal that the law had, in fact, survived almost entirely intact.

Obama's first response was confusion: Two of the four televisions in the outer Oval Office were still breathlessly pronouncing the mandate dead. But the initial shock quickly turned to smiles and hugs, the administration officials said, as the true results sunk in: The Supreme Court had upheld the Affordable Care Act, 5-4.

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Health Care Live Chat With Brian Beutler

TPM's Senior Capitol Hill Reporter Brian Beutler is answering all of your questions about today's Supreme Court ruling at 4 p.m. Submit them via Twitter using the hashtag #askTPM, via e-mail by sending them to talk@talkingpointsmemo.com with the subject line "Live Chat" or on Facebook here.

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HCR

Obama Calls Health Care Decision 'A Victory,' Romney Vows Repeal

The Supreme Court's decision Thursday to uphold President Obama's signature health care law represented a major triumph for the White House, but will only fuel an already fierce debate about the role and purpose of government on the 2012 campaign trail.

With the law left largely intact by the Supreme Court, the election's stakes for health care are now clear. Republicans, led by Mitt Romney, have pledged nothing short of a full repeal of the law. Should Romney win office with even narrow Republican control in Congress, the GOP could do grievous damage to the Affordable Care Act using the Senate's reconciliation process, which requires only a simple majority vote and canot be filibustered.

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BREAKING: Supreme Court Upholds 'Obamacare'

The Supreme Court has ruled 5-4 that the Affordable Care Act meets constitutional muster and can be allowed to continue its slow process of transforming the nation's health care system.

Thursday's historic decision, authored by Chief Justice Roberts, was by no means a fait accompli. Though the consensus among constitutional scholars has always been that the law's insurance mandate did not exceed Congress' Commerce Clause powers, its opponents erected a counterargument that quickly became an article of faith on the right. In the end, Roberts' decision upheld the mandate as an exercise of Congress' taxing power.

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Republicans Drop Talk Of Health Care 'Replace' -- For Now

On the verge of an expected Supreme Court decision on the constitutionality of Obamacare, Republicans have removed "replace" from their mantra of "repeal and replace," signaling that they may do nothing this year if some or all of the law is declared unconstitutional.

Congressional Republicans had vowed not to return to the pre-Affordable Care Act status quo, which was widely seen as broken. They've since voted unanimously to roll back the law. And while they've flirted recently with reinstating some of the more popular benefits of 'Obamacare' in a replacement plan, they still haven't coalesced around a proposal.

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HCR

Ben Nelson: Activist Supreme Court Would 'Pave The Way To A Single-Payer System'

Retiring Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) -- the most conservative Democratic senator, and the member of the caucus who held out longest before voting for the Affordable Care Act -- warns that if the Supreme Court throws out the law, it'll put the country on the road toward single-payer health care.

"Many expect an activist Supreme Court will strike down part or all of health reform," Nelson said in a prepared statement. "If they strike down the mandate, the Supreme Court will be paving the way to a single-payer system, or back to the old broken health care system -- neither of which are good for Nebraskans."

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A Top Progressive On The Correct Response If SCOTUS Nixes 'Obamacare'

A veteran of the long ideological fight between liberals and conservatives over popular safety net programs thinks President Obama and Democrats will have to turn to expanding Medicare if the Supreme Court throws out big parts or all of the Affordable Care Act.

In so doing, he becomes the latest high-profile progressive and reform advocate to conclude that an adverse Court decision will leave the party little choice but to move back to the left on the issue of health care.

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The Supreme Court's Lurch To The Right (CHARTS)

The modern Supreme Court is the most conservative since the 1930s.

The median justice during the Roberts Court is more conservative than at any time during the last 75 years, according to a statistical method developed by legal scholars Andrew Martin of Washington University School of Law in St. Louis and Kevin Quinn of the University of California at Berkeley School of Law.

When he was appointed in 1975 by President Ford, Justice John Paul Stevens was considered one of the court's more conservative members. By the time he retired in 2010, he was heralded as its liberal lion.

The high court's rightward trajectory mirrors the broader national shift over the last several decades. President Bush sealed a five-member conservative majority by appointing Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito.

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How Much Of 'Obamacare' Can Republicans Repeal?

No matter what the Supreme Court decides in its health care reform ruling expected Thursday, Republicans have promised to repeal all parts of the law that are left standing.

If they sweep the elections, Republicans will be able to roll back key parts of the law either with a 51-vote Senate majority or via executive fiat. But that will leave other major pieces that require an implausible 60-vote Senate threshold to repeal, allowing Democrats to filibuster. The options are detailed in a report by the D.C.-based political intelligence firm Washington Analysis.

Multiple budget-related parts of the Affordable Care Act can be repealed via a bare majority under a Senate procedure known as reconciliation. Those parts include the insurance subsidies, Medicaid expansion, the Medicare cost-saving Independent Payment Advisory Board, closing the "doughnut hole," and taxes on insurers and providers.

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Lawyers

  • U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli

    Solicitor General Donald Verrilli will be representing the Obama administration as the government's top lawyer before the Supreme... Read more »
  • Paul Clement

    Paul Clement will be arguing against the health care reform mandate. Clement, originally from Wisconsin, is a former... Read more »
  • Michael Carvin

    Michael Carvin, a partner at Jones Day law firm, is representing the National Federation of Independent Business in... Read more »
  • Robert Long

    Robert Long is a partner at the firm Covington and Burling who practices in the areas of appellate litigation, antitrust, and administrative law. Long was appointed... Read more »
  • H. Bartow Farr III

    H. Bartow Farr III was appointed by the Supreme Court to argue that the rest of the law can still stand even if the individual mandate... Read more »
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