Since the Affordable Care Act was passed in 2010, Atlantic writers have been prognosticating on today's ruling. Here's how their thoughts panned out.
THE SPOT-ON ASSESSMENT
In May, Jack Balkin, a professor of Constitutional law at Yale, declared in no uncertain terms that the mandate would be upheld because it fits the textbook definition of a tax:
In fact, the individual mandate is a tax. The mandate is an amendment to the Internal Revenue Code, and it is calculated based on a percentage of adjusted gross income or a fixed amount, whichever is larger. Starting in 2014, it will be collected on your form 1040 just like your other taxes.
Opponents of the ACA have tried to argue that Congress's declaration of responsibility to purchase health insurance is somehow separate from the tax that enforces it. But "the idea that the mandate is something separate," Chief Justice John Roberts remarked on the first day of oral arguments, "from whether you want to call it a penalty or tax just doesn't seem to make much sense. . . . what happens if you don't file the mandate on your tax return? And the answer is nothing."
THE BETTING MAN
While Atlantic contributing editor and legal analyst Andrew Cohen wouldn't put down a specific wager, in November 2011 he laid down the odds as to how the court would vote. Today, he must have been surprised: He counted the odds of Roberts siding with a majority in favor of the mandate to be very low. He was most certain that Kennedy, not Roberts, would be the swing vote. But he admitted that predicting Supreme Court decisions is no science. As he warned, "Obsess at your own risk."
Odds: 10-1. Chief Justice John Roberts cobbles together a strong majority (6-3 or 7-2) in favor of the Act by including language in the ruling that sharply limits Congressional power to go beyond the "individual mandate." This is the "legacy ruling" that would allow the chief justice to give the Act's supporters what they want but also ease the fears of the Act's detractors who worry that the feds soon will be requiring them to eat broccoli and other foods.
THE COMMERCE CLAUSE ARGUMENT