WASHINGTON — South Carolinas Republican lawmakers expressed deep disappointment with the Supreme Courts health-care ruling Thursday, but they said voters will deliver the final verdict in November at the ballot box.
Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn of Columbia, the congressional delegations only Democrat, hailed the 5-4 high court decision saying that Congress power to levy taxes gives it the authority to require that all Americans obtain health insurance.
I have said throughout this debate that this law is the Civil Rights Act of the 21st century, Clyburn said. History will look kindly on this tremendous achievement.
Clyburn played a major role in gaining House passage of the 2010 Affordable Care Act as House whip, a post he relinquished last year after Republicans regained majority control of the chamber. He remains the No. 3 U.S. House Democrat.
Freshman U.S. Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-Indian Land, said he was surprised and saddened by the court decision, but he said it could end up hurting President Barack Obama.
Its a major victory for him, but it doesnt help his election prospects, Mulvaney said. Its going to be very difficult for him to look somebody in the face and say he never raised taxes.
Mulvaney said he and other GOP lawmakers especially were dismayed by the fact Chief Justice John Roberts, a nominee of Republican President George W. Bush, wrote the majority opinion in the high court ruling, providing the crucial fifth vote.
Certainly the fact that Justice Roberts was the swing vote here stung a lot of Republicans, Mulvaney said.
Clyburn scoffed at House Majority Leader Eric Cantors decision to set a July 11 vote to repeal the health-care law. It will go nowhere, Clyburn said. They ought to stop grandstanding.
The House previously had voted to repeal the law, but the Democratic-controlled Senate has defeated such bids.
In the current session of Congress, Obama would veto a repeal measure, and it would be almost impossible for Republicans to muster the two-thirds majority needed to overturn a presidential veto.
The Republicans only realistic chance of repealing the health-care law would be to hold control of the House in the November election, regain control of the Senate and see presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney elected president.
U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint, a Greenville Republican who vowed three years ago to make the health-care measure Obamas Waterloo, was even more defiant in wake of the Supreme Courts ruling that it was constitutional.
This government takeover of health care remains as destructive, unsustainable and unconstitutional as it was the day it was passed, unread, by a since-fired congressional majority, DeMint said. Now as then, our first step toward real health-care reform and economic renewal remains Obamacares full repeal, down to the last letter and punctuation mark.
U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-Seneca, issued a dare to Democrats in Congress.
To our Democratic colleagues, stand by your tax increase or stand with us to repeal and replace Obamacare, Graham said. The problem for the American people is this is a massive tax increase at a time they can least afford it, and Obamacare will jeopardize the quality and accessibility of health care.
Graham, an attorney, was among the few lawmakers or commentators who predicted before Thursdays ruling the court might use Congress power to tax, instead of the Constitutions Commerce Clause, to uphold the health-insurance law.
Obama could actually win that argument that the fine (if someone refuses to buy insurance) is really just a tax and were going to tax you to create a centralized health-care system, Graham told CNN in March.
Dick Harpootlian, chairman of the S.C. Democratic Party, parlayed the high courts decision into an appeal to activists to help return Obama to the White House in November.
This is a huge day for the president and the people of this country, he said. It is now time to work even harder ... and get him re-elected in November.
Joe Dugan, head of the Myrtle Beach Tea Party and the groups statewide coalition, expressed anger at the Supreme Court.
Today, the highest court in the land failed to defend liberty and the Constitution, becoming an accomplice to the president and his allies who have forced this unconstitutional and unwanted law down the throats of freedom-loving Americans, he said.
Freshman U.S. Rep. Tim Scott, R-North Charleston, was more measured in his criticism.
Obviously, I strongly disagree with the Supreme Courts decision, he said. The president has said all along the individual mandate was not a tax, but it has been shown today as even more of a wolf in sheeps clothing.