Staff and wire reports
WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court has upheld the individual insurance requirement at the heart of President Barack Obama's health care overhaul.
The court on Thursday handed Obama a campaign-season victory in rejecting arguments that Congress went too far in requiring most Americans to have health insurance or pay a penalty.
Chief Justice John Roberts announced the court's judgment that allows the law to go forward with its aim of covering more than 30 million uninsured Americans.
The court found problems with the law's expansion of Medicaid, but even there said the expansion could proceed as long as the federal government does not threaten to withhold states' entire Medicaid allotment if they don't take part in the law's extension.
The court's four liberal justices, Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, joined Roberts in the outcome.
Justices Samuel Alito, Anthony Kennedy, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas dissented.
"The act before us here exceeds federal power both in mandating the purchase of health insurance and in denying non-consenting states all Medicaid funding," the dissenters said in a joint statement.
Reaction to the ruling from Louisiana leaders
Predictably, reaction to the ruling broke along party lines from Louisiana leaders.
Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal panned the ruling, taking his thoughts to Twitter.
"Today’s decision is a blow to our freedoms," said Jindal on Twitter. "The Court should have protected our constitutional freedoms, but remember it was the President that forced this law on us."
Jindal called for a repeal of the health care reform package.
Sen. David Vitter, R-La, joined Jindal in his disappointment and the call for repeal. "Disappointing ruling by #SCOTUS. I am more committed than ever to repealing #Obamacare outright."
Congressman Cedric Richmond, D-New Orleans, applauded the ruling on Twitter, foreseeing a positive result for Louisianians: "This is a major victory for (sic) @whitehouse and the families, seniors, and youth in Louisiana."
Richmond compared Thursday's ruling to other landmark decisions such as Brown v. Board of Education or Miranda v. Arizona.
"When Americans look back on this decision many years from now, we can say we were a part of history. We chose to put the needs of the everyday American first,” said a statement from Richmond.
Congressman Jeff Landry lamented the ruling, believing it could have a devastating impact on the country. “This is a tragic day for America as the Supreme Court ruled there is no limit to the federal government’s overreach. Today’s ruling moves America further down the path of socialism. It increases taxes on low and middle class Americans and keeps the anti-religious freedom HHS mandate intact," he said in a statement.
New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, a Democrat, made his support public for the high court's ruling when he spoke at a City Council meeting.
Just like her brother, Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La, expressed approval with the ruling. "I am proud of my work to make this law a reality. Its benefits are clear. It reduces the deficit by more than $1 trillion over 20 years, provides security to millions of middle class and low-income Americans who need and depend on affordable health care that now cannot be taken away, and over the long run, will improve health outcomes for our entire population," she said in a statement.
In addition to calling for a repeal, Congressman Steve Scalise, R-Metairie, asked voters to make their disapproval known at the ballot box during the next presidential election.
"“The Supreme Court had their say on the last Thursday in June, but the American people will have their say on the first Tuesday in November," said Scalise in statement. "President Obama has consistently said that his health care law was not a tax increase on American families, but that’s exactly how the Supreme Court classified the individual mandate today. Not only is this new tax yet another violation of the promises made by President Obama, it will hit American families and small businesses squarely in the gut as they struggle to stay afloat in the failed Obama economy."