NFIB Sebelius Roberts

17 Oct

Cite as: 567 U. S. ____ (2012) 

Opinion of ROBERTS, C. J.

NOTICE: This opinion is subject to formal revision before publication in the 
preliminary print of the United States Reports. Readers are requested to
notify the Reporter of Decisions, Supreme Court of the United States, Wash –
ington, D. C. 20543, of any typographical or other formal errors, in order
that corrections may be made before the preliminary print goes to press.

SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES 
———–
Nos. 11-–393, 11-–398 and 11-–400 
———-
NATIONAL FEDERATION OF INDEPENDENT
BUSINESS, ET AL ., PETITIONERS
11-–393 v. 
KATHLEEN SEBELIUS, SECRETARY OF HEALTH
AND HUMAN SERVICES, ET AL .

DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN
SERVICES, ET AL ., PETITIONERS
11-–398 v. 
FLORIDA ET AL .

FLORIDA, ET AL ., PETITIONERS
11-–400 v. 
DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND
HUMAN SERVICES ET AL .

ON WRITS OF CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF 
APPEALS FOR THE ELEVENTH CIRCUIT

[June 28, 2012] 

 

CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS announced the judgment of the
Court 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 provi-
sions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of

2

2010: the individual mandate, which requires individuals 
to purchase a health insurance policy providing a mini-
mum level of coverage; and the Medicaid expansion, which
gives funds to the States on the condition that they pro-
vide 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 enact
the challenged provisions.

In our federal system, the National Government pos-
sesses only limited powers; the States and the people
retain the remainder. Nearly two centuries ago, Chief
Justice Marshall observed that “”the question respecting
the 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 many
States and individuals believe it does not possess. Resolv-
ing this controversy requires us to examine both the limits
of the Government’’s power, and our own limited role in
policing 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 conceiv-
able functions of government, the Constitution lists, or
enumerates, the Federal Government’s powers. Congress
may, 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 pow-
ers, because “”[t]he enumeration presupposes something not
enumerated.”” Gibbons v. Ogden, 9 Wheat. 1, 195 (1824).
The Constitution’’s express conferral of some powers
makes clear that it does not grant others. And the Federal

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