A SAD DAY FOR AMERICA
Michael S. Coffman
July 7, 2012
June 28, 2012 may well go down as the day the U.S. Constitution died. The Constitution has been under increasing attack for decades, but only the most zealous progressive liberals believed the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act (AKA, Obamacare) would be upheld. Their hope was based on the Court’s past convoluted twisting of the so-called “Commerce Clause” of the Constitution which allowed the federal government vast powers never intended by the Founders. Even so, the Court has historically drawn the line on allowing Congress unlimited power to do anything it wanted. That changed on June 28, but in a way that no one expected—one based on political correctness and intimidation, not on the Constitution itself.
As expected, Chief Justice John Roberts and the four liberal progressive Justices did strike down the claim that Obamacare was constitutional based on the commerce clause. That was a positive outcome and one that may set limits in the future. Nevertheless, in tortured twisted logic, Roberts and the majority ruled that Obamacare was constitutional because Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution that states: “The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes...”
The majority’s decision was so contorted that Justice Antonin Scalia wrote in his dissent, the decision "carries verbal wizardry too far, deep into the forbidden land of the sophists" (who used extreme convoluted reasoning). Many believe the only explanation of the majority’s torturous decision was that Roberts succumbed to Obama’s and the media’s prior intimidation of the Court. To avoid a backlash from the far left, Roberts apparently appeased them by finding the law constitutional, possibly at the last minute.
Roberts took an oath to uphold the Constitution, including its original intent. He did not take an oath to uphold the shining image of the Supreme Court when a totally proven foe of the Constitution is demonizing him. Many conservatives hale Roberts’ decision as a brilliant strategy to force the repeal of Obamacare. It is not. It represents a total abdication of his oath of office.
First, in the process of declaring Obamacare constitutional, Roberts’ completely ignored the Constitutional requirement that the House originate all tax bills. However, the Senate originated it, making Roberts’ decision itself unconstitutional. This could open up Pandora’s box, even a Constitutional crisis.
Second, if there are no limits on the federal government's power to tax, there are almost no limits on the federal government's power to impose mandates on its citizens. For the first time in our history, the Court’s decision finally destroyed the most fundamental and unique purposes of the Constitution—protecting the liberty of the individual from the government. In essence, Congress cannot use the Commerce Clause to force you to eat broccoli, but it can tax you into doing so.
The surreal decision by the Court is only one side of this disastrous story. After adamantly insisting that the mandate portion of Obamacare was not a tax in order to get the bill passed, President Obama then had his attorneys insist it was a tax when arguing the case before the Supreme Court. The bill itself does not mention the word tax. Following the Court’s decision, the Obama administration once again argued that the penalty was not a tax, but a penalty—completely ignoring the Supreme Court’s decision. Does Obama really think that the American people are really that stupid that we will not see through his duplicity? Apparently he does, because that seems to be what is happening. The mainstream media has hardly blinked.
To call Obamacare a tax meant President Obama would have imposed on us one of the biggest tax hikes in United States history—hundreds of billions of dollars—mostly paid for by middle class taxpayers who the president said would not pay one dime in taxes. That won’t get him reelected, so he had to convince the American people the Court could say anything it wanted, but Obamacare was not a tax. As usual with politics, truth and reality were casualties. The president is apparently the arbitrator of what is right or wrong—not the Supreme Court. It is just a useless appendage, like Congress.
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Roberts may have placated the far left with this spurious decision, but he enraged conservatives and most independents. Even if the resulting outrage dooms the reelection of Obama and other Washington progressives in Congress who passed it, and even if true constitutional conservatives sweep the elections and repeal Obamacare, the Court’s decision to radically expand the powers of the federal government still stands—giving Congress near absolute power over the people. Lord Acton is famous for saying, “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Sooner or later, probably sooner, this vast new power will be abused. May the Constitution RIP.