The Supreme Court upholds most of Obamacare including the individual mandate
When I first heard the ruling come down I ran through a gamut of emotions; initially I was stunned and shocked, but that was quickly replaced by anger and eventually I settled into a state of numbed acceptance. I had thought that parts of Obamacare would be upheld but I believed with all my heart that the individual mandate would be deemed unconstitutional and the only thing I find more surprising that the individual mandate stands is the individual who provided the deciding vote on the matter–Chief Justice Roberts–and his explanation of why the mandate is constitutional.
The chief justice started his opinion by stating what we all thought was going to be good news for opponents of the mandate when he declared the government could not force a person to buy healthcare coverage under the commerce clause and said because of this the individual mandate was unconstitutional:
The majority opinion, authored by Roberts, said the federal government does not have the constitutional power to compel “individuals to become active in commerce… [so] the individual mandate cannot be sustained.”
But then he undid this be reclassifying the mandate as a tax, and because this is a tax the Congress has the authority to punish people for not entering into commerce because the Congress does have the authority to levy taxes. The semantics might be different, but the end result is the same–John Roberts simply gave the federal government another way to implement policies which otherwise might violate the commerce clause. Some conservative pundits are now trying to spin this into a victory (much like the media tried to spin the failed Wisconsin recall vote into a victory for Barack Obama) because the chief justice placed limits on the commerce clause but all he really did was provide the Democrats with a precedent which can now be used to regulate our behavior on any number of issues while avoiding a possible conflict with the commerce clause.
We have already seen some cities begin banning large soft drinks and we can expect these bans to grow until junk food intake is regulated at the city and at the state level. And eventually, as the government continues to intrude in the healthcare business, we can expect the federal government to begin to do likewise under the justification that if they force the people to eat healthier it will bring down the cost of healthcare. The one problem with the healthcare mandate is the fact that the tax isn’t high enough to “urge” people to change their habits, but we can expect the government to rectify that problem when food intake and exercise are closely regulated. You don’t eat properly and you can be taxed. You don’t exercise enough and you can be taxed. Where does it end?
Under the guise of “environmental justice” can the government now tax people who decide not to buy a Chevy volt or some other hybrid automobile? After all, they are chosing to not enter into a certain type of commerce with which the government approves and therefore the Congress can now regulate non-behavior according to John Roberts.
There was a little bit of good news in John Roberts’ decision: First; the federal government can no longer hold the prospect of cutting off funds to the states if the states do not do as the federal government commands, and second; by classifying the mandate as a tax it has exposed a truth that Barack Obama would have rather kept quiet.
This tax can now be used as a campaign issue and now it will be up to the people to vote out every single man and woman who voted for Obamacare. Our future is in our own hands and it is time for us to rise up and take this country back to its founding principles. The constitution is (was) a limiting document and the founders never envisioned a scenario where the government could force people to purchase a product or face a penalty, but that is precisely how John Roberts has interpreted the constitution.
But even this is not much of a victory because what is our choice? Voting for Mitt Romney is our only option and does anyone believe this man when he says he will repeal Obamacare on day one? How does he plan on doing that? Through executive order? Obamacare is now the law of the land and if Mitt Romney wins he will swear to uphold the laws of the land and he should not stoop to Barack Obama’s level by simply ignoring the laws he disagrees with or by creating new laws out of thin air. Isn’t that a major problem conservatives have with Barack Obama as of late?
And even if Mitt Romney does keep his promise and manages to get Obamacare repealed John Roberts has set a precedent which will never go away and one which will be used from time to time by people on both sides of the aisle. I would argue that today John Roberts contributed as much–if not more–than Barack Obama has in guaranteeing the expansion of government at the very time when it is critical to scale the government back. This is why I have slipped into a state of numbed acceptance: the truth is that this was our best chance to stop Obamacare and we lost today and there is probably nothing we can do to change it.
I am going to use a Democrat line for the first time here–this is all Bush’s fault, he gave us John Roberts. Barack Obama is fond of talking about the mess he inherited, do you think he will thank George W Bush because he inherited John Roberts? I defended John Roberts’ decision on Arizona’s immigration law but I cannot defend this.