A West Virginia businessman who was one of those challenging the Affordable Care Act says he was blindsided by the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on Thursday.
"I’m actually kind of surprised, but I’m very, very disappointed," said Dave Klemencic. "It really is a very dark day in the history of the country."
On Thursday, the Supreme Court issued a 5-4 decision that upholds the Affordable Care Act that President Barack Obama signed into law in 2010.
Chief Justice John Roberts voted with the majority and said, in the opinion he wrote, that the individual mandate in the legislation is constitutional under the tax clause, not the commerce clause.
Klemencic owns Ellenboro Floors in Ritchie County. He was at the Supreme Court when the arguments were made against the health care legislation on the grounds that it violated the commerce clause. He says all indications were the other side had no reasonable argument to uphold the measure.
The reference to the tax clause, Klemencic says, was brought up during the arguments very briefly."
"It wasn’t taken very seriously. The justices didn’t ask very many questions on it," he said. "That’s why it was so surprising to me."
He worries, like many Americans who were against the measure, that the ruling sets a precedent enabling the government to mandate any kind of purchase.
"If you start mandating a private citizen to enter contracts with private companies, there’s no stopping the power," he said.
"They can virtually require us now to buy electric cars if they want because it’s precedent in the Supreme Court. There’s no limit to this. It’s a really, really bad thing."
The mandate will come with a cost. Klemencic fears it will be particularly harsh on companies like his which have only a few employees.
"I have a retail floor covering store in a town with a population under 400. We have 10,000 people in the entire county," he said. "There’s only so much money to be made here."
He suspects it will force many like him to just give up for good.
"If they’re required to do this, they’re just pulling the plug," he said. "That’s four or five families that are going to have to find a new way to eat. I’m not too sure what I’m going to do at this point either."