WASHINGTON — Washington, D,C.
— The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld a lower court ruling that could lead to the imposition of fines for residents who do not have insurance coverage.
In an opinion written by Chief Justice John Roberts, the court ruled that the fines could be imposed for the same reason that insurance companies could impose fines for the violation of state regulations, such as the requirement that insurers cover all services in a hospital or the use of an ambulance in a certain time frame.
Roberts said the fines “are appropriate because they are imposed for compliance with a federal mandate.”
In a dissenting opinion, Justice Samuel Alito said that the majority’s reasoning is not the right one.
He said that a fine could be enforced only against a violator, such that the penalty is “not a deterrent, but an encouragement to avoid the offense.”
Alito said the government must prove that a violation occurred in violation of the mandate by demonstrating the person knew it was prohibited.
The court also said it was the duty of the state to ensure that all its residents have health insurance, and the government may have a compelling interest in preventing a person from violating the law.
The case is Puckett v.
Trump, U. S. Supreme College of William and Mary Law School, Inc. No. 15-1066.