The Supreme Court upheld President Obama’s historic health care law Thursday - a defining moment in the 2012 race for the White House.
The stunning ruling - unexpected from a Court led by conservatives - was a huge victory for Obama, who staked much of his term on passing the national plan.
The major debate came over the individual mandate, which requires Americans to have health care or face a financial penalty.
The buy-in by most Americans would raise enough money to pay for the entire plan.
The Supreme Court ruled that it was constitutional - with Chief Justice John Roberts joining the 5-4 majority opinion.
Roberts, who was appointed by GOP President George W. Bush, cast the tiebreaking vote that allowed the law to surive.
He and the more traditionally liberal justices ruled that the controversial mandate could exist as a tax - which kept the bill intact.
Republicans opposed Obamacare from the outset and their presidential candidate Mitt Romney has pledged to repeal all of it on his first day in office if elected.
Obama was expected to address the Court’s ruling later Thursday, but his campaign sent out a fundraising email before the Justices ruled - asking supporters “to have [the President’s] back.”
The decision - the most important Supreme Court ruling since it awarded the 2000 presidential election to Bush - has been awaited for months and has become the center of the political world.
Press, protesters, policy wonks s and passing tourists jammed the steps and sidewalks outside the high court, pouring over onto the opposite sidewalk in front of the Capitol on a hot and humid weekday morning.
Dueling protestors pounded drums, waved flags and held signs ranging from "Don't hijack my healthcare” to "ObamaScare."
Police sirens chirped as officers struggled to keep gawkers on the sidewalk and out of First St. NE.