Supreme Court upholds Obamacare, maintaining health insurance for millions

The court also ruled that Philadelphia wrongly limited ties with a Catholic foster care agency over the group's refusal to work with gay couples.
18:19 | 06/17/21

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Transcript for Supreme Court upholds Obamacare, maintaining health insurance for millions
Hi everyone I'm Diana stated we're coming on the air with breaking news the Supreme Court has just rejected a challenge to be Affordable Care Act. For the third time. The court was asked to decide if the law's individual mandate was unconstitutional. Now that congress made the penalties zero. And if so whether the rest of the law can stand without it but the justices here have decided. That the plaintiffs in this case had no standing to bring the case to begin wit. The decision maintains health insurance for millions of Americans effectively leaving in place the status quo let's go right. Senior Washington reporter Devin Dwyer as seven what does this mean practically for health care and help insurance in this country. Yet I had this means the status quo is in place for the health care system in this country and for Obama care of course which was signed into law. But in 2010 it has been challenged it three times X extension late this was one of those challenges. And the Supreme Court today punted without even getting to the merits of the question of fact justice. Stephen Breyer one of the liberals the oldest member. Of the court to act seems to have brokered a compromise here taking a very narrow approach saying the plaintiffs. In this case failed to show a concrete and particular allies. Injury. The court has argued of course that they they. Broker compromises cat over controversies they don't decide things that are actual issues. Here is you mentioned did the whole issue of this was the individual mandate the commander that Americans buy health insurance while. In 2017. Congress zeroed out the penalty for going without health insurance and so. When these plaintiffs came forward and said look we've been injured by this command that we buy health insurance we bought health insurance because of that we didn't want it. The court today said now you actually were injured because there's no penalty attached to it and therefore there's no controversy. And so we're stain out of it it was a seven to two decision leaving in place obamacare and that mandate. And I want bring in senior national correspondent Terry Moran for more on the political impact here because Terry. This is the third challenge now to Obama care before the Supreme Court. And I wonder what this does for that trend but also the general trend of trying to use the courts more and more to a census look a essentially legislate. At the great question Diane. So for the Republicans what this has been the one of the major projects of the Republican party for the better part of a decade they've tried three times they hate this law they said it was an act of tyranny. It's become quite popular Roman American people but what they didn't like. Was the individual mandate. In the law requiring Americans. Over the age of eighteen to you buy health insurance. And at one point they actually took what was the penalty there was a fine. Attacks is though is the way the Supreme Court look at it if you. Didn't buy health insurance yet pay money to the government are Republicans reduced patent number to zero. And that's how we got today's opinion if you don't have to pay anything that the government can't enforce its command then you aren't injured. And that's at the bottom of this because in our country and our constitution. Courts only rule on actual cases or controversies. Don't just give opinions about laws Willy Nilly and if you don't like a law he didn't bring a kept case you have to. Demonstrate. That you suffered some real injury that's traceable to the law itself. And what the court here is doing as you suggest more broadly as saying. Back off with these kind of rate cases were really the people who are bring them are political. Activists not ordinary citizens have been injured by the law. But two board trying to make up point politically using the courts that's not what we're for the Supreme Court says even Clarence Thomas. Signs on to this opinion saying the problem is they have not identified any unlawful action by the government that has injured them at the governments are gonna punish you. And you can does not buy health insurance you don't have a case in court and that's an important principle that the Supreme Court laid down today. And one about a constitutional attorney ABC's adjudicate shop a little bit more on not Kate when you look at the language. Of the way this decision came down what do you think it does not only for future cases against the Affordable Care Act that future cases before the Supreme Court and general. What you want the court that that the case that something pretty important about the Supreme Court the church. Whatever the party and the appointing president certain legal principle sort of transcend ideology and partisanship and the idea that carry which I think which has. Courts don't get to just decide any dispute that interest that more that divide the country there have to be some concrete. No dispute between two parties one opponent injured by the law that being challenged on so what could understand. And our president can't quit on the court you know three jump it is appropriate jumped up at all chuck Barrett. I am confident justice breyer's majority opinion the chief Justice Roberts hand up the comic also. Interpreted jump at the Republican point you don't actually think. Part in a boat equipped Turkey to the vision of but the could court and that at a public perception of the court that it is important one. Kind of transcendent that certain ideological. Or. I'm certain legal principle they're they're ability to transcend ideology and partisanship but didn't the Supreme Court it is saying. You know it doesn't matter who the pardons the President Hu pointed out what the two world in particular well we'll keep their legal principle that we talk to abide by. He won't get no limited jurisdiction of the federal court Papa on how. Get it back it up and the public is people have properly support them. It kind of one of those who provide income couples like you to but the important statements that I think will mean that future challenges to be portable. There are. You know uncle Robert I'm you know I just want sloppy. Hopefully the public art. Get that those and omnipotent and bar you know contentious political question. Are not what can be resolved in court toward the political grant are directly to sort of resolve some of that you can court to a point that sort of you know be in the in the background that the fighting on the occupancy come before them but market opened an important political debate on what the future helped the country. And Devin I wonder what this does for the perception of the Supreme Court as Kate mentioned we've had a number unanimous decision so far this one did not come down along. You know what some people would expect the quote conservative were more liberal judges to decide done. And this comes at a time when the court seems to be coming. More political not necessarily their decisions but in in public perception and perception in congress we've seen congress to get out now. In the senate over whether or not to confirm certain appointees based on which president put them forward and where we are in a little an election cycle. And there was a lot of talk about this being now a conservative court particularly with the addition that it just disparate after the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg so what does it today about the history of the court being apolitical the way we've seen some of these. Recent decisions come down. Well couple things they have first of all I think the fact that Justice Breyer authored this opinion is very significant. And the fact that it was so narrow and decided on standing it also significant this has been a project of Justice Breyer since he. Joined the bench you know quarter century ago was to bring sides together. To find compromise. To be that broke her odd it here he appears to have done it and he was the man leading the way. Are trying to thread the needle on on this one I think that's significant in the fact that it's seven to two also very significant not along with traditional. Ideological lines we've reported here and talked a lot big picture about how the court has been assigning cases so far this term. A majority of cases all nearly 70%. Of cases so far there are still. 1615. Left to go have been unanimous Diane that is a striking figure on average over the past ten years about half the cases. I have been unanimous and another major decision just came down a few minutes ago. On a significant case. Involving religious freedom out of Philadelphia a case. And Bobby Foster care Catholic social services and LG BTQ rights. That case was decided unanimously in favor. Of the religious group in that it in that case which is very significant it's a blow will be seen as a blow to LG BT equality in this country coming in the middle pride month. A strike against the city at Philadelphia's attempt. (%expletive) it to roll back discrimination against LG BTQ people but again a unanimous decision. By the Supreme Court getting the liberals on board same such efforts by the city of Philadelphia. Are subjected to strict scrutiny under the law. And here are striking that down so. A fascinating dimension. Decisions so far coming from the court this year at a time as you say when it is so you know in the middle of this political debates. It's decisions had been banned live far from what many would expect based on the president's. Will point and I am. An al-Qaeda know you're pouring through that decision right now what six out to you about. This Fulton vs city of Philadelphia decision here on fostering. So dependent parent and opinion I think he's dead and a 108 at want to be jet that we're all still digesting the basically issued here. I'm with the challenge by Catholic social services to a requirement that city Philadelphia weekly that an intricate network Achille equipment or the city. Cut to abide by general nondiscrimination law including a prohibition on discrimination on the beach at the orientation. And Catholic social service that as we actually don't want certified intact couple at Foster parent under our contract with a pity because we got a religious objection to doing that. And Philadelphia has argued well I think what have to abide by the name nondiscrimination principles whatever action might opt to go on and I'd get him a job playing. The court has sided with cap actual social services and health and and found that the Philadelphia requirement want to apply to Catholic culture but that so. It is certainly right that religious liberty has prevailed over LG BTQ equality in this particular come home to conflict. But it could very narrow opinion that would be able to basically keep. The in your court on the side that apple social services basically by saying that the city of Philadelphia. Key exception to other kinds of organizations bought at auction to area conditions. Because these regulations but didn't keep between commitment to the religious objections of Catholic social services so basically the court seemed to be saying. That it's not that religious objections. Are more important than other kinds of actions or that would liberty is the most important constitutional quintuple. I compare to make equality. Shut that indeed keys to city of Philadelphia. Did not shrieked deep religious organizations in this one but he treated other organizations in the language of the Indian. But the requirement would not generally applicable so again until turnpike at mid market that it it is absolutely a critical of the liberty but not. The kind of full throated announcement that religious liberty is. You know a principal in the constitution that will provide all other principal. Which I think people were a little worried that. That opinion might say and I think the package you have a unanimous court. Coming together to write a very moral opinion in which. Your completion wind but without no clear implications for other disputes. I think that argument the court desire what you know try to stay movement toward a relic it would so deeply cut cook out cases. And also the Chief Justice Robert he authored the opinion wrote a very the opinion again Gary narrow one but certainly a win political party. And DeVon this debate over what constitutes religious liberty and what constitutes discrimination. Has been going on for quite some time now what do you think this case does not only for the specific issue they were dealing with before the court today but that general conversations. This you know you talk to advocates on both sides you religious conservatives and LG BT. Advocates Diane and both say you know religious freedom in this country and LG BT rights don't need to be at odds. It put this case is going to be interpreted and as sick he just say we're still trying to read through the finer points 110 pages. Are coming down but at ahead of this decision we have been hearing from gay rights advocates that this was going to be an unmistakable message to gay people. Gave potential Foster parents gay children in the Foster care system there's a disproportionate number of LG BT kids in that system. Ott that certain groups can discriminate against those parents and incentive very and in negative message and reinforcing stereotypes. So at you know at the surface level the fact that the city of Philadelphia's policy. You know in forcing a nondiscrimination mayor you know rule are on Catholic social services. You know can't go forward kaput social services will be able to continue screening parents. For Foster care in that city. In making continued to deny as same sex couples in light of their beliefs and so. If this is such a delicate issue but we've learned this term that this court is showing a lot of deference to religious liberty and perhaps today is we continue to digest this. A decision we'll see what kind of a standard they're setting. Going forward. And so Terry when you look at the overall picture of what this does a for the Supreme Court and the way the American public. And Washington views the Supreme Court. What do you think given today we not only have the court siding with what many would consider to be conservative leaning ruling and then another liberal leaning ruling. But also the fact that these justices are not voting along the lines of what one might expect. Based on the presidents who appointed them. You know it's fascinating Diane I think that inside the Supreme Court they are working to find ways to resolve these highly politically charged cases. Cases that are brought not really for legal reasons but for political purposes as they found. Really in the obamacare case. That those were. Plaintiffs who actually had suffered no injury and here they they look at that a portion of the law. A that rendered the case in a different light they're trying to get out of politics. It's essentially that what they're trying to do is back the political activists or try to use the court from the left and right. To store up the culture wars to win total victory over the other side of these hot button issues by getting a decree from the Supreme Court. And I think what you're seeing is liberals and conservatives right. On on the Supreme Court saying you know this should not be our role let's find a way to resolve this judicially. Under law with principles but like standing in generally applicable laws. That'd that that. Will enable us to articulate law and stay out of politics and ended his artfully done in both cases. And is a message. To so many activists lawyers and groups who are getting funding to bring these cases Supreme Court if they go hunting for play did state that the kind of cook up plate that sometimes. They want the Supreme Court to essentially issue political decrease of chronic care is gone. Yeah there there there you can't discriminate. Against these religious groups in this way and the court is looking at the facts of the case under the laws of the country in the constitution. And they're saying is not the third there's another way of resolving its dispute for us because we aren't in your political muck and mire. We're gonna do it the legal way. And and I wonder apple have that effect because it certainly is strong message from them today. That they aren't gonna play that game. And DeVon it's interesting that this all happens in the backdrop of increased pressure on Justice Breyer. To read tire Democrats have been wanting to see him step down during Biden's early part of his administration to ensure. That it is a democratic president president Biden who gets to bill. That seat what do you think this does for that conversation. I have a lot of pressure mounting just overnight Diane after Mitch McConnell the Republican leader in the senate. Famously behind it the blockade against Barack Obama's nominee to replace Justice Alito Merrick Garland. A few years back and of course pushing hard to get Amy coney Barrett. On the court just days before the election McConnell yesterday said that if Republicans win control of the senate next year. There's a good chance potential chance that they will block any nominee. By president Biden 20/20 three or 20/20 four. That sent shockwaves through liberals overnight new advertisements in major newspapers calling on Justice Breyer to it to step down. To leave the bench to ensure that president Biden can replace. Him properly easily add to the court Breyer is the oldest justice is 82 years old. Of course they have very divided dead six to three in minority. On the court right now but I gotta tell you. No one can tell a justice wind to leave the bench of course and Stephen Breyer is lobbying his job he is showing no signs. Of wanting to go any time soon in fact and he just gave a speech a few weeks ago. Pushing back on this idea that and justices are beholden to the party of the president that appoints them. These are just talking points for Stephen Breyer they are deeply felt deeply believed. I've spent time with with Breyer one on one he's talked about it you can see he really believes this deeply so it's hard to see how this out outside activity. We'll nudged him towards the exit. Especially at a time when as he said just last week one of the things he's learned on the bench Diana's you don't let opt. Perhaps that's another tea leaf that he plans to be here for at least another term. Devin Dwyer Taylor and Kate shot thank you all. And we will have a lot more on these cases at 3 PM eastern on the breakdown today thank you all for joining I'm famous stayed out. Have a great rest today.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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