Urteil des obersten Gerichtshofs der USA zur Gesundheitsreform, 28.6.2012, (Auszug aus der engl. Originalfassung)
Opinion of ROBERTS, C. J.
[...] CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS announced the judgment of theCourt and delivered the opinion of the Court with respect to Parts I, II, and III–C, an opinion with respect to Part IV, in which JUSTICE BREYER and JUSTICE KAGAN join, and an opinion with respect to Parts III–A, III–B, and III–D.
Today we resolve constitutional challenges to two provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010: the individual mandate, which requires individuals to purchase a health insurance policy providing a minimum level of coverage; and the Medicaid expansion, which gives funds to the States on the condition that they provide specified health care to all citizens whose income falls below a certain threshold. We do not consider whether the Act embodies sound policies. That judgment is entrusted to the Nation’s elected leaders. We ask only whether Congress has the power under the Constitution to enactthe challenged provisions.
In our federal system, the National Government possesses only limited powers; the States and the peopleretain the remainder. Nearly two centuries ago, Chief Justice Marshall observed that “the question respectingthe extent of the powers actually granted” to the Federal Government “is perpetually arising, and will probably continue to arise, as long as our system shall exist.” McCulloch v. Maryland, 4 Wheat. 316, 405 (1819). In this case we must again determine whether the Constitution grants Congress powers it now asserts, but which manyStates and individuals believe it does not possess. Resolving this controversy requires us to examine both the limits of the Government’s power, and our own limited role inpolicing those boundaries.
The Federal Government “is acknowledged by all to be one of enumerated powers.” Ibid. That is, rather than granting general authority to perform all the conceivable functions of government, the Constitution lists, orenumerates, the Federal Government’s powers. Congressmay, for example, “coin Money,” “establish Post Offices,”and “raise and support Armies.” Art. I, §8, cls. 5, 7, 12. The enumeration of powers is also a limitation of powers, because “[t]he enumeration presupposes something not enumerated.” Gibbons v. Ogden, 9 Wheat. 1, 195 (1824).The Constitution’s express conferral of some powersmakes clear that it does not grant others. And the Federal Government “can exercise only the powers granted to it.” McCulloch, supra, at 405.
Today, the restrictions on government power foremost in many Americans’ minds are likely to be affirmative prohibitions, such as contained in the Bill of Rights. These affirmative prohibitions come into play, however, only wherethe Government possesses authority to act in the firstplace. If no enumerated power authorizes Congress topass a certain law, that law may not be enacted, even if it would not violate any of the express prohibitions in the Bill of Rights or elsewhere in the Constitution.
Indeed, the Constitution did not initially include a Bill of Rights at least partly because the Framers felt the enumeration of powers sufficed to restrain the Government.As Alexander Hamilton put it, “the Constitution is itself,in every rational sense, and to every useful purpose, A BILL OF RIGHTS.” The Federalist No. 84, p. 515 (C. Rossiter ed. 1961). And when the Bill of Rights was ratified, it made express what the enumeration of powers necessarily implied: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution . . . are reserved to the Statesrespectively, or to the people.” U. S. Const., Amdt. 10. The Federal Government has expanded dramatically overthe past two centuries, but it still must show that a constitutional grant of power authorizes each of its actions. See, e.g., United States v. Comstock, 560 U. S. ___ (2010).
The same does not apply to the States, because the Constitution is not the source of their power. The Constitution may restrict state governments—as it does, for example, by forbidding them to deny any person the equal protection of the laws. But where such prohibitions do not apply, state governments do not need constitutional authorization to act. The States thus can and do performmany of the vital functions of modern government—punishing street crime, running public schools, and zoning property for development, to name but a few—even though the Constitution’s text does not authorize any governmentto do so. Our cases refer to this general power of governing, possessed by the States but not by the Federal Government, as the “police power.” See, e.g., United States v. Morrison, 529 U. S. 598, 618–619 (2000).
“State sovereignty is not just an end in itself: Rather,federalism secures to citizens the liberties that derive from the diffusion of sovereign power.” New York v. United States, 505 U. S. 144, 181 (1992) (internal quotationmarks omitted). Because the police power is controlled by50 different States instead of one national sovereign, the facets of governing that touch on citizens’ daily lives are normally administered by smaller governments closer tothe governed. The Framers thus ensured that powers which “in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives,liberties, and properties of the people” were held by governments more local and more accountable than a dis- tant federal bureaucracy. The Federalist No. 45, at 293
(J. Madison). The independent power of the States also serves as a check on the power of the Federal Government: “By denying any one government complete jurisdiction over all the concerns of public life, federalism protects theliberty of the individual from arbitrary power.” Bond v. United States, 564 U. S. ___, ___ (2011) (slip op., at 9–10).
This case concerns two powers that the Constitution does grant the Federal Government, but which must beread carefully to avoid creating a general federal authority akin to the police power. The Constitution authorizes Congress to “regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, andamong the several States, and with the Indian Tribes.”Art. I, §8, cl. 3. Our precedents read that to mean that Congress may regulate “the channels of interstate commerce,” “persons or things in interstate commerce,” and “those activities that substantially affect interstate commerce.” Morrison, supra, at 609 (internal quotation marksomitted). The power over activities that substantially affect interstate commerce can be expansive. That powerhas been held to authorize federal regulation of such seemingly local matters as a farmer’s decision to grow wheatfor himself and his livestock, and a loan shark’s extortionate collections from a neighborhood butcher shop. See Wickard v. Filburn, 317 U. S. 111 (1942); Perez v. United States, 402 U. S. 146 (1971).
Congress may also “lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for thecommon Defence and general Welfare of the United States.” U. S. Const., Art. I, §8, cl. 1. Put simply, Congress may tax and spend. This grant gives the FederalGovernment considerable influence even in areas where it cannot directly regulate. The Federal Government may enact a tax on an activity that it cannot authorize, forbid,or otherwise control. See, e.g., License Tax Cases, 5 Wall. 462, 471 (1867). And in exercising its spending power,Congress may offer funds to the States, and may condition those offers on compliance with specified conditions. See, e.g., College Savings Bank v. Florida Prepaid Postsecondary Ed. Expense Bd., 527 U. S. 666, 686 (1999). These offers may well induce the States to adopt policies thatthe Federal Government itself could not impose. See, e.g., South Dakota v. Dole, 483 U. S. 203, 205–206 (1987) (conditioning federal highway funds on States raising their drinking age to 21).
The reach of the Federal Government’s enumerated powers is broader still because the Constitution authorizes Congress to “make all Laws which shall be necessary andproper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers.”Art. I, §8, cl. 18. We have long read this provision to giveCongress great latitude in exercising its powers: “Let theend be legitimate, let it be within the scope of the constitution, and all means which are appropriate, which are plainly adapted to that end, which are not prohibited, but consist with the letter and spirit of the constitution, are constitutional.” McCulloch, 4 Wheat., at 421.
Our permissive reading of these powers is explained inpart by a general reticence to invalidate the acts of theNation’s elected leaders. “Proper respect for a co-ordinate branch of the government” requires that we strike downan Act of Congress only if “the lack of constitutionalauthority to pass [the] act in question is clearly demonstrated.” United States v. Harris, 106 U. S. 629, 635 (1883).Members of this Court are vested with the authority tointerpret the law; we possess neither the expertise northe prerogative to make policy judgments. Those decisions are entrusted to our Nation’s elected leaders, who can be thrown out of office if the people disagree with them. It is not our job to protect the people from the consequences oftheir political choices.
Our deference in matters of policy cannot, however,become abdication in matters of law. “The powers of the legislature are defined and limited; and that those lim- its may not be mistaken, or forgotten, the constitution is written.” Marbury v. Madison, 1 Cranch 137, 176 (1803). Our respect for Congress’s policy judgments thus can never extend so far as to disavow restraints on federal power that the Constitution carefully constructed. “The peculiar circumstances of the moment may render a measure more or less wise, but cannot render it more or less constitutional.” Chief Justice John Marshall, A Friend of the Constitution No. V, Alexandria Gazette, July5, 1819, in John Marshall’s Defense of McCulloch v. Maryland 190–191 (G. Gunther ed. 1969). And there can be no question that it is the responsibility of this Court to enforce the limits on federal power by striking down acts ofCongress that transgress those limits. Marbury v. Madison, supra, at 175–176.
The questions before us must be considered against thebackground of these basic principles.
Das Gerichtsurteil im Wortlaut in der englischen Originalfassung können Sie hier herunterladen.