US PRESIDENT Barack Obama's health care reform has survived the Supreme Court challenge in a five - four decision written by the Chief Justice John Roberts, recasting the coming election from a referendum over the economy into a choice between parties for and against the new laws.
Justice Roberts and the court's four liberal justices held that the legislation's centrepiece, known as the individual mandate - the right of the government to fine people who decline to take out insurance - was constitutional.
But reading the decision he first spent long minutes explaining how the government's key argument in defence of the laws had actually failed, prompting both CNN and Fox News to falsely report that the laws had failed.
He read the decision to silence in the packed courtroom as Justice Clarence Thomas, who dissented, leaned far back in his chair, gazed at the court's ornate ceiling and gripped his forehead.
The false reports were the first to reach the White House, where the president and his team were watching TV news broadcasts, 2.5 kilometres down the National Mall from the court.
Read more at Brisbane Times