Sunday, July 8, 2012

Obamacare, Justice Roberts, and King Solomon

[from Billlifka]

President Obama has had difficulty deciding which past president he resembles the most in his traits and actions. King Solomon might be a better model. Like all ancient kings, Solomon was chief, lawmaker and judge, all at the same time. This posting is about Solomon-like wisdom but not about Obama, directly. Instead, it suggests that Chief Justice Roberts may be very wise and not as wimpy as Liberals think of him now or traitorous as Conservatives think of him, post-ruling.


The ruling determined whether Obamacare was unconstitutional as claimed by a majority of the states and other associated organizations. To most Americans (who don’t know better) and most media folks (who should know better) this meant that the Supreme Court would decide whether the law was a good one or a bad one. Also, they thought (for good reason) that the court would decide along ideological lines; which is to say that the four Liberal justices would praise the law as inspired legislation and the four conservative justices would damn the law as the devil’s work. The only question was how the “swing” Justice would vote. As it turned out, the praising and the damning went as expected but with the “swinger” being a damner and the “Conservative” Chief Justice being a damner but sustaining the constitutionality of the law. It was not the 5:4 or 4:5 ruling expected but one the WSJ termed a 1:4:4 decision, and aptly so.

Generally, pundits had failed to explain the argument for constitutionality wasn’t based solely on the mandated penalty for non-insured citizens being justified by the Constitution’s commerce clause. This is what Democrats argued at the time of passage. If allowed by the Court, a Pandora’s box of evils would be opened for use in future legislation, which was as bad or worse than Obamacare itself, in Conservative opinion. Indeed, the Conservative four pointed out all the bad things while deciding that the commerce clause could not be used as Liberals had argued. Chief Justice Roberts agreed with the Conservatives so a commerce clause application is barred from expanded usage. Also, Roberts agreed that the federal government couldn’t penalize the states for disobeying federal orders to increase Medicaid, thus satisfying another Conservative wish and providing another important limitation. However, surprising all, Roberts declared the mandate to be a tax and, therefore, fell within the constitutional power of Congress to levy.

It was a stretch of legal reasoning, at best. However, the Solicitor General, arguing the case for the Justice Department, had used the tax argument as justification and a Court is obligated to consider all arguments. It was clear that Roberts knew he was stretching; his opinion exempted the mandate from falling under other tax rules or regulations. Obama had insisted, in dozens of speeches before the ruling and now after the ruling, that the mandate is not a tax and that there are no taxes on citizens in Obamacare. It’s one of his bigger lies since 21 taxes have been uncovered in the 2700+ pages so far. Most are on other entities that will pass the cost of taxes on to the consumer. However, one is a 3.8% tax on the sale of real estate and this hits the consumer directly in 2013, after the election. Also, the bill provides for the hiring of 6000 IRS agents to enforce the bill’s tax provisions. It was necessary to lie about taxes before or the bill would never have passed, even in the Democrat controlled Congress. Nancy Pelosi says she doesn’t care how they won, just that they did. It’s what we’ve come to expect of her and her cohorts.


The favorite story of King Solomon emphasizes his legendary wisdom. It relates how two came before him, each claiming to be the mother of the same child. Both had plausible stories to back their claims. Solomon ruled that a fair solution was to cut the baby in two and give half to each woman. One woman broke into tears at the judgment and insisted that the whole baby be given to the other woman. Solomon then changed his decision to give the whole baby to the woman who was willing to give it up rather than see the baby killed. In his opinion, only the true mother would sacrifice everything for the life of her child.

There’s a plausible argument that Chief Justice John Roberts exhibited the wisdom of Solomon in the 1:4:4 decision of the U.S. Supreme Court declaring Obamacare legal. That is the minority opinion of the political pundits by a wide margin. (That Roberts was wise in his ruling.) The best that liberal talking heads can say is he’s a wimp for caving to the political backlash planned by Obama and his campaign advisors if the law were to be ruled unconstitutional. Conservative talking heads have nothing good to say about a Justice they now consider to be a traitor.

One clue to the Chief Justice’s motivation, if not his legal reasoning, is contained in his written opinion for the majority, “It is not our job to protect the people from the consequences of their political choices.” What a refreshing but frightening view. The Supreme Court, under Roberts, is not going to protect citizens from decisions of Congress just because those decisions are stupid, nor is it going to protect Congress from the results of its own stupid decisions. If citizens don’t like what Congress does, they must accept the stupidity or vote it out of office. We, the people, must accept Constitutional responsibility and use the collective voice and vote to reverse the mistakes. And the same applies to a president who is so narcissistic as to refer to the stupidly named Affordable Health Care Law as, “the law I passed.”

The Chief Justice is rendering America a great service in many ways under-appreciated by pundits and people. Right from the beginning he has made a consistent effort for the Court to narrow its rulings rather than make sweeping decisions to expand the coverage of a constitutional clause or statute far beyond its language. He abhors legislating from the bench. He believes the Court has a responsibility to maintain the balance of power between the branches of government as the Founders intended to safeguard the rights of citizens. He has labored to soften the ideological clashes in the Court, in sharp contrast to words and actions of the president, legislators, media and the people. Under Roberts’ leadership, 44% of the Court’s decisions have been unanimous and another 11% have had a single dissenter. Only 20% have been decided 5:4.

Diehard Liberals are greatly angered by such even-handedness. Diehard Conservatives are angrier; this was supposed to be a Conservative Court. If one considers what a Conservative Court really is to do, the Roberts Court comes close to the target. But what about this truly terrible bill that doubles down on all the bad things in American health care and adds a whole slew of new bad things? It would be nice if America had Referendum at a national level. (In addition to Recall and Initiative) But it does exist; except it’s called “election”. November is the time when people can start the reversing of this really stupid law, if they’re not stupid, also.