The US Supreme Court on Thursday upheld President Barack Obama’s healthcare law handing him a political victory he is likely to use to boost his re-election bid.
But the court also handed his Republican opponents a poll prop that’s worked for them before: they fought the 2010 congressional elections opposing the law, and won the House.
The court held the law — Affordable Care Act — constitutional in a 5-4 decision with the crucial vote of chief justice John Roberts, whose appointment Obama opposed as a senator in 2005.
The law, which runs into 2,400 pages, was passed by congress in March 2010, seeking, among other things, to extend affordable health insurance to every American.
It turned contentious from day one, with Republicans saying it infringed individual freedom, expanded the role of the federal government and would ruin small businesses.
On Thursday, every supporter and critic of the Obama administration admitted, the President had won. He himself seemed keen, however, to downplay the politics around it.
“Whatever the politics,” the president said in an address to the nation, “Today’s decision was a victory for people all across this country whose lives will be more secure.”
But aware Republicans were not going to give up, he said the country should move as it cannot afford to “re-fight political battles of two years ago, or go back to way things were.”
Republicans are indeed not going to concede the fight easily. “What the Supreme Court didn’t do on its last day of the session, I will do on my first day as president: repeal the law,” said Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
Congressmen from his party intend to bring a legislation in Republican-dominated House of Representatives on July 9 repealing the law.
The party, however, doesn’t have the numbers to push it through the Senate, which is dominated by Democrats. The law, known as Obamacare, seems safe until the next polls.
“As Republicans, we will redouble our efforts to repeal this job-killing law,” said senator John Cornyn.