barack_obama_signs.jpgWASHINGTON, DC- The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the Obama administration's universal healthcare mandate.

Chief Justice John Roberts — a conservative appointed by President George W. Bush — provided the key vote with the liberal justices to preserve the legislation.

 The ruling will have a major impact on the nation's health care system, the actions of both federal and state governments, and the course of the November presidential and congressional elections.

The ruling is also likely to boost Obama's re-election bid against Republican opponent Mitt Romney, who has made it a key campaign issue.

The justices said that the individual mandate, which requires most Americans to buy health insurance or pay a fine — is constitutional as a tax.

The government had argued that Congress had the authority to pass the individual mandate as part of its power to regulate interstate commerce; the court disagreed with that analysis, but preserved the mandate because the fine amounts to a tax that is within Congress' constitutional taxing powers.