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Ohio Attorney General: Ruled Against, Not Defeated


Now to the attorney general of Ohio, Republican Mike DeWine. Ohio was among the plaintiffs seeking to strike down the Affordable Care Act. And again, they ended up on the losing side today as the court upheld the law, including the individual mandate. Mike DeWine, welcome to the program.

MIKE DEWINE: Good to be back. Thank you very much.

BLOCK: You were in the audience back in March when the court heard this case. Based on what you heard that day, are you surprised by the ruling today and, in particular, with the swing justice, as it turns out, being the chief justice, John Roberts?

DEWINE: Well, I'm not really surprised with the decision. I thought that we had a very good shot at winning and the interesting thing is a fascinating decision. The interesting thing - and I think the good thing - for our side is that the Supreme Court, including the chief justice, accepted our argument that this was a real stretch for the Congress claws. So, in that sense, we think this was a victory.

BLOCK: And I'm surprised to hear you calling this a victory because, in a sense, the court repudiated what you want to happen here, which is to invalidate the law. The law will stand based on this ruling.


BLOCK: They did uphold it on the frame that Congress hasn't ordered people to buy health insurance, but it does have the power to impose a tax on those without health insurance. And chief justice wrote it's in keeping with court tradition, giving Congress great latitude in exercising its powers.

I'm curious. You are a former senator. Does the former congressman in you appreciate that reasoning?

DEWINE: I found it to be interesting simply because the Obama administration initially sold this, politically, as not a tax. The lower courts that looked at that, by and large, rejected the idea that it was a tax, but now you have five members of the United States Supreme Court who say, yes. It is a tax.

So I think, going back to your initial question, what surprised me? That's what surprised me and I'm very disappointed in the ultimate outcome, but two things are very, very positive for the states that filed this lawsuit. One is Medicaid. This is going to give the states a great deal more flexibility in regard to the Medicaid expansion. And, two, from a constitutional point of view and looking at the future of this country and the relationship between the branches of government, particularly the relationship between the federal government and the states and the individual, I have to be happy that the court said this was just a stretch of the Commerce Clause.

BLOCK: But, the net effect, Attorney General DeWine, is - in the end - the same, that they're upholding the law using a different avenue, using an alternative...

DEWINE: Same effect.

BLOCK: ...form of reasoning.

DEWINE: You're right. Same effect as far as the outcome of this case, but the bigger battle about the relationship between the federal government and the individuals, I think there's certainly something to be happy about in that decision.

BLOCK: Even if you're not happy with the ultimate ruling?

DEWINE: Not happy with the ultimate ruling and, look, everyone has to accept the Supreme Court's decision from a legal point of view, but this certainly does not end the political debate. You will see this debated out in the presidential campaign and the American people are going to have the opportunity, candidly, to speak again this November on what they think about the president's health care plan, among many other things.

BLOCK: Well, Mike DeWine, thanks for being with us. Appreciate it.

DEWINE: Thank you very much.

BLOCK: That's Mike DeWine, the attorney general of Ohio, and a Republican. Ohio was among the plaintiffs seeking to strike down the Affordable Care Act. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.