Thursday, June 28, 2012

My, Was I Wrong...Sort Of....

A mere four hours after confidently predicting that the Supreme Court would overturn Obamacare root and branch, the Supreme Court upheld Obamacare.  How it came to do so is not difficult to understand, but that it did so still leaves me befuddled. 

First things first.  The Supreme Court bought virtually every argument that the Conservative bar made against the individual mandate.  Writing for the majority (more on this later), Chief Justice Roberts went out of his way to make it clear that the claim of a Congressional right to impose the mandate under the Commerce Clause was an unreasonable and Unconstitutional power grab.  At this point, one would think that the case was over, save for the mitigation measures.  But Roberts went further, presumably throwing his support to the four liberal Justices in a deal that gave them the victory they wanted and gave him the clear blow to the Commerce Clause that he wanted.  He did so by recognizing that Congress' right to tax, and in a bit of jurisprudential gymnastics, he averred that the mandate--while not passing Constitutional muster under the Commerce Clause--was perfectly legal under the right to impose taxes. 

I've read portions of the dissent that are devastating in refuting Roberts' logic.  His brethren accuse the majority of "rewriting" the law by designating it a tax, then they go on to cite the trouble with such rewriting being done by the branch LEAST accountable to the people. But the truth is, throughout the process of passing and litigating Obamacare, Republicans called the mandate a tax, which it was.  And Democrats--including the President--maintained that it wasn't. 

Democrats did so out of political necessity.  The President ran on and governed with the statement that he would not raise taxes on the middle class, and with 75% of the burden of the payments under the mandate falling on middle class families, the mandate could not be called a tax.  We should call this what it was--a lie.  A lie of political necessity, but a lie nonetheless.

And so we come to today--Chief Justice Roberts and the Court liberals joining forces (how Elena Kagan did not recuse herself will be something worth talking about for ages, but I digress) to uphold Obamacare in a manner in which no one would have predicted.  By that, I mean there was no prediction out there that Roberts would join the liberals while Kennedy stayed with the Conservatives.  Some saw BOTH of them going over, but most saw the law being struck down.

So I was wrong.  Obamacare stands.  I do not like the decision, but it seems to have a reasonable logic to it.  I also don't like Chief Justice Roberts consorting with the liberals, but I think he was (like Obama) thinking about the legacy of his court.  He did however, send a direct message to people like me, and maybe most of you.  In his ruling, he quite rightly states:  "Members of this Court are vested with the authority to interpret the law; we possess neither the expertise nor the prerogative to make policy judgments. Those decisions are entrusted to our Nation’s elected leaders, who can be thrown out of office if the people disagree with them. It is not our job to protect the people from the consequences of their political choices."  Let's get to work.

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