WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court has upheld the nationwide tax subsidies under President Barack Obama's health care overhaul, in a ruling that preserves health insurance for millions of Americans.
The justices said in a 6-3 ruling Thursday that the subsidies that 8.7 million people currently receive to make insurance affordable do not depend on where they live, under the 2010 health care law.
Onlookers outside the Supreme Court building burst into cheers when they learned of the ruling.
Obama, speaking from the White House Rose Garden shortly after the ruling, said, "Today, after more than 50 votes in Congress ... (and) multiple challenges to this law before the Supreme Court, the Affordable Care Act is here to stay."
The outcome is the second major victory for Obama in politically charged Supreme Court tests of his most significant domestic achievement.
Chief Justice John Roberts again voted with his liberal colleagues in support of the law.
'Not to destroy them'
"Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them," Roberts wrote in the court's decision, adding that nationwide availability of the credits is required to "avoid the type of calamitous result that Congress plainly meant to avoid."
It marked the second time in three years that the high court ruled against a major challenge to the law brought by conservatives seeking to gut it. Roberts also was the key vote to uphold the law in 2012.
Justice Anthony Kennedy also voted with his more liberal colleagues.
"This is a victory for common sense and for all American families," House of Representatives Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said in a statement. " It is long past time for Republicans to abandon their assault on the newfound health security that the Affordable Care Act is providing millions and millions of Americans across the country."
However, continuing disputers over the health-care law may well be a factor in the 2016 presidential political campaign. Three candidates for the Republican Party's nomination immediately announced Friday that they intend to make health care a major campaign issue, notwithstanding the Supreme Court's ruling.
Also Thursday, a divided U.S. Supreme Court embraced a broad interpretation of the type of civil rights allegations that can be made under the landmark Fair Housing Act by ruling that the law allows for discrimination claims based on seemingly neutral practices that may have a discriminatory effect.
On a 5-4 vote in a major civil rights case, the court handed a victory to civil rights groups and the Obama administration, which had backed Inclusive Communities Project Inc., a nonprofit in Texas that claimed the state violated the law by disproportionately awarding low-income housing tax credits to developers who own properties in poor, minority-dominated neighborhoods.
VOA's Cindy Saine contributed to this report from Capitol Hill. Some material for this report came from Reuters.