NFIB Sebelius Roberts


use in providing national unemployment services. Con-
gress was willing to direct businesses to instead pay the
money into state programs only on the condition that the
money be used for the same purposes.  Predicating tax
abatement on a State’s adoption of a particular type of un-
employment legislation was therefore a means to ““safe-
guard [the Federal Government’s] own treasury.””  Id., at
591. We held that “”[i]n such circumstances, if in no oth-
ers, inducement or persuasion does not go beyond the
bounds of power.”” Ibid.

  In rejecting the argument that the federal law was a
““weapon[ ] of coercion, destroying or impairing the auton –
omy of the states,”” the Court noted that there was no
reason to suppose that the State in that case acted other
than through “”her unfettered will.””  Id., at 586, 590.
Indeed, the State itself did “”not offer a suggestion that in
passing the unemployment law she was affected by du-
ress.”” Id., at 589.

  As our decision in Steward Machine confirms, Congress
may attach appropriate conditions to federal taxing and
spending programs to preserve its control over the use of
federal funds. In the typical case we look to the States to
defend their prerogatives by adopting “”the simple expedi-
ent of not yielding”” to federal blandishments when they
do not want to embrace the federal policies as their own.
Massachusetts v. Mellon, 262 U. S. 447, 482 (1923).  The
States are separate and independent sovereigns. Some-
times they have to act like it.

  The States, however, argue that the Medicaid expansion
is far from the typical case.  They object that Congress has
““crossed the line distinguishing encouragement from
coercion,”” New York, supra, at 175, in the way it has struc-
tured the funding: Instead of simply refusing to grant the
new funds to States that will not accept the new condi-
tions, Congress has also threatened to withhold those
States’ existing Medicaid funds.  The States claim that 


this threat serves no purpose other than to force unwilling
States to sign up for the dramatic expansion in health care
coverage effected by the Act.

  Given the nature of the threat and the programs at
issue here, we must agree.  We have upheld Congress’’s
authority to condition the receipt of funds on the States’’
complying with restrictions on the use of those funds,
because that is the means by which Congress ensures that
the funds are spent according to its view of the “”general
Welfare.”” Conditions that do not here govern the use
of the funds, however, cannot be justified on that ba-
sis. When, for example, such conditions take the form of
threats to terminate other significant independent grants,
the conditions are properly viewed as a means of pressur-
ing the States to accept policy changes.

In South Dakota v.  Dole, we considered a challenge to a
federal law that threatened to withhold five percent of a
State’’s federal highway funds if the State did not raise its
drinking age to 21.  The Court found that the condition
was “”directly related to one of the main purposes for which
highway funds are expended—safe interstate travel.””  483
U. S., at 208.  At the same time, the condition was not a
restriction on how the highway funds—-set aside for spec-
ific highway improvement and maintenance efforts—-were
to be used.

 We accordingly asked whether “”the financial induce-
ment offered by Congress”” was “so coercive as to pass the
point at which ‘’pressure turns into compulsion.'”’ ”Id., at
211 (quoting Steward Machine, supra, at 590).  By ““finan-
cial inducement”” the Court meant the threat of losing five
percent of highway funds; no new money was offered to
the States to raise their drinking ages.  We found that the
inducement was not impermissibly coercive, because
Congress was offering only “”relatively mild encouragement
to the States.”” Dole, 483 U. S., at 211. We observed that
““all South Dakota would lose if she adheres to her chosen