Yesterday’s Supreme Court decision regarding Obamacare is being predictably hailed as a victory by liberals and the Obama Administration. Those celebrations may be more than a bit premature.
It is disappointing, to say the least, that this bill was not struck down. The oxymoronically titled Affordable Care Act makes health care far less affordable, drains billions from the economy, and sprays fuel on the debt fire, just for starters. But it is important to note that it is not the Court’s job to either enact or repeal laws; that is a right and duty of the American people through their Congress.
The Supreme Court has upheld terrible laws before; Dred Scott, Plessy v. Ferguson, Roe v. Wade, and Kelo v. City of New London (which, as you may recall, allowed the government to use Imminent Domain just about anywhere it wants to) as a few examples. But this decision has a very profound silver lining.
The Court, while it mistakenly found the individual mandate Constitutional as a tax, found it unconstitutional under both the Commerce and the Necessary and Proper Clauses that it was being defended under. In other words, for the first time since the New Deal first began smashing the Constitutional barriers to federal over-gestation, the High Court verified that Congress and the President cannot expand their powers under the auspices of these Clauses.
This is no small thing; for conservatives, this was the most ominous, damaging, and consequential component of Obamacare—the notion that the government can use the Commerce Clause of the Constitution to compel people into a market, effectively foregoing any limiting function. The Roberts Court set as legal precedent the argument made by the right for months that the Constitution does not give the government the right to create commerce by forcing an individual to purchase a product, and, just as significantly, that the Necessary and Proper Clause is not carte blanche to the government to impose whatever intrusionist idea it pleases on the American public. This could have enormous consequences for future social engineering and welfare programs, which will need to be sold to the voters for what they are – coerced redistributions of wealth.
Also noteworthy is the decision to limit the federal government’s ability to impose its will on the states. The Court told the Obama Administration that, fine, you can attach strings to new funding for new programs; but you cannot extend those conditions to existing funding – meaning that states which decide not to go along with the Medicaid expansion do not risk losing existing Medicaid funds, as had been threatened in Obamacare. Like the ruling’s determination that the Commerce Clause does in fact limit what silliness Congress can try and get away with, this part of the decision significantly curtails Congress’s ability to bully the states; a potentially important step in reaffirming the federalist system.
Important of course, too, are the political implications. There is little doubt that the election is now, barring an unforeseen international event of near-Biblical proportions, officially about Obamacare. The President went to great pains to tell all who would listen that the individual mandate was not a tax. He swore up, down, and sideways, in several venues, that it was not a tax. He nearly tackled George Stephanopolis to the floor, shaking him by the throat screaming “IT’S NOT A TAX!!”
Unfortunately for POTUS, SCOTUS just confirmed it was; and it is something that he, and every Democrat who voted for it, will have to own this election season.
As William Kristol warned a few weeks ago, “Put not your trust in judges—nor in other berobed or bejeweled personages. To the degree you trust anyone: Trust the people.” Chief Justice Roberts, in his opinion, probably said it best; “It is not our job to protect the people from the consequences of their political decisions.” Is it a bad law? Yes, it’s a terrible law. But as Roberts tried telling the hapless Joe Biden, as the then-Senator was prattling through his interrogation of Roberts during his confirmation hearings, the Supreme Court’s job is to “call balls and strikes”, not to make policy.
More than anything, SCOTUS’s ruling reinforces the fact that elections have consequences, and starkly illustrates that the act must be repealed legislatively. Among his first acts in Congress, Representative Scott Tipton voted, along with the majority in the Republican led House, to repeal this massive tax increase on the middle class. America needs more of his kind, from the Presidency on down, and this ruling will be the catalyst to ensure that She gets them.
The left whined incessantly about the Supreme Court handing the Presidency to a Republican in 2000. It just did so again, this time amid the cheers of the Democrats.
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