The U.S. Supreme Court announced today (June 28, 2012) that it has upheld the individual health insurance mandate (buy insurance or pay a penalty) portion of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) as constitutional under Congress's taxing authority.

The victory for the Obama administration was sealed when Chief Justice John Roberts in a surprise move sided with the four solidly liberal members of the court in a 5-to-4 vote. The other four justices voted to shelve the entire legislation as unconstitutional.

Chief Justice John Roberts opted to write the court's opinion so as to limit the power of Congress in such matters as much as possible, rejecting the Constitution's Commerce Clause as a blank slate for mandates. (The four other affirming justices, however, penned their own conclusion that rejected the chief justice's reasoning.)

"The Commerce Clause is not a general license to regulate an individual from cradle to grave, simply because he will predictably engage in particular transactions," the chief justice wrote

The court did find fault with portions of the health care reform measure that dealt with expansion of Medicaid.

The high court entertained pro and con arguments about the law in March but in typical fashion delayed announcement of its decision until the end of its term.

N.B. An earlier version of this post, relying on sketchy reports, had the conclusion correct but the voting patterns unclear.