What Does the Supreme Court’s Decision Upholding “Obamacare” Mean for the Gay Community?

Now that the Supreme Court has upheld the constitutionality of most of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), most liberals are cheering, most conservatives are feling betrayed by Chief Justice Roberts and are looking ahead to the next election, and most Americans are wondering what this all means. Unsurprisingly, immediate reactions from the left and right may not be well thought out. Legal experts far smarter than I — Professor Glenn Cohen of Harvard, for example — have been offering scholarly commentary online, on the radio, and elsewhere; their words are insightful and worth a read. Today, I would like to add a few words about the implications of the Court’s decision on the LGBT community.

First, let us rid ourselves of the notion that Chief Justice Roberts’s opinion in National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius was an unmitigated victory for progressives. In fact, in upholding a law that seems so odious to conservatives, the Chief Justice tried to give the right a legal victory by further narrowing the scope of federal power under the Commerce Clause. That has been the cause celebre of conservatives for decades, and by deciding the case pursuant to Congress’s taxing power and quashing the idea that the individual mandate falls under “interstate commerce,” Chief Justice Roberts tried to continue the march away from broad Congressional power to pass social legislation.

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