Skip to comments.A triumph and tragedy for the law
Posted on 07/09/2012 11:16:06 AM PDT by american_steve
The Supreme Court's ObamaCare decision is both a triumph and a tragedy for our constitutional system. On the plus side, as we have long argued in these pages and in the courts, the justices held that Congress's power to regulate interstate commerce cannot support federal requirements imposed on Americans simply because they exist. The court also ruled that there are limits to Congress's ability to use federal spending to force the states to adopt its preferred policies.
However, in upholding ObamaCare's mandate that all Americans buy health insurance as a kind of "tax," the court itself engaged in a quintessentially legislative activityredrafting the law's unambiguous text. The court struck down ObamaCare as enacted by Congress and upheld a new ObamaCare of its own making.
Congress grounded ObamaCare's individual insurance coverage mandate in its power to regulate interstate commerce, supported by the Constitution's Necessary and Proper Clause, which permits Congress to make all laws "necessary and proper" for carrying into effect its various enumerated powers. It relied on these constitutional provisions so as to avoid the clear political costs involved in simply raising taxes to create the universal health-care system ObamaCare's backers really desired.
ObamaCare defenders, in the courts of law and public opinion, have been pressing these points for the last two years, and they lost. A majority of justices ruled that the Commerce Clause, even in conjunction with the Necessary and Proper Clause, cannot support federal regulation of "individuals as such, as opposed to their activities."
(Excerpt) Read more at davidrivkin.com ...
Triumph is not an acceptable term for an occasion on which the branch of government entrusted with deciding these issues comes to the conclusion that something as unconstitutional as the ACA is constitutional.
So they finally decided that there are limits to a clause which has already been stretched so far beyond the limits envisioned by the founders as to be unrecognisable by any reasonable standard of original intent?
Explain to me again how this is a “triumph”?
The court effectively permitting the legislature to exceed the limits placed upon it by the commerce clause it can do whatever it pleases as long as it calls it a tax is a “triumph”?
What’s with all these pundits who are determined to find a silver lining, no matter how faint, to this cloud anyway? Its like some sort of political Stockholm Syndrome..
Roberts opined that this is not an issue to be decided by government but by the people.
The SC has abdicated responsibility for determining the constitutionality of this highly politicized issue. Reminiscent of the Dred Scott opinion. That benighted ruling led to a Civil War. Will this one fare any better?
"Until the people have, by some solemn and authoritative act, annulled or changed the established form, it is binding upon them collectively, as well as individually; and no presumption or even knowledge of their sentiments, can warrant their representatives [the executive, judiciary, or legislature]; in a departure from it prior to such an act." - Alexander Hamilton
In the first of the eighty-five "Federalist Papers," Alexander Hamilton emphasized that:
The Framers knew that the passage of time would surely disclose imperfections or inadequacies in the Constitution, but these were to be repaired or remedied by formal amendment, not by legislative action or judicial construction (or reconstruction). Hamilton (in The Federalist No. 78) was emphatic about this:
The Congress, unlike the British Parliament, was not given final authority over the Constitution, which partly explains why the judicial authority was lodged in a separate and independent branch of government. In Britain the supreme judicial authority is exercised by a committee of the House of Lords, which is appropriate in a system of parliamentary supremacy, but, although it was suggested they do so, the Framers refused to follow the British example.
The American system is one of constitutional supremacy, which means that sovereignty resides in the people, not in the King-in-Parliament; and the idea that the Constitution may be changed by an act of the legislature--even an act subsequently authorized by the judiciary--is simply incompatible with the natural right of the people to determine how (and even whether) they shall be governed.
Unlike in Britain where, formally at least, the queen rules by the grace of God (Dei gratia regina), American government rests on the consent of the people; and, according to natural right, the consent must be given formally. In fact, it must be given in a written compact entered into by the people. Here is Madison on the compacts underlying American government:
Neither civil society (or as Madison puts it, "the people in their social state') nor government exists by nature. By nature everyone is sovereign with respect to himself, free to do whatever in his judgment is necessary to preserve his own life - or, in the words of the Declaration of Independence, everyone is endowed by nature with the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of a happiness that he defines for himself. Civil society is an artificial person (constituted by the first of the compacts), and it is civil society that institutes and empowers government. So it was that they became "the People of the United States" in 1776 and, in 1787-88, WE, THE PEOPLE ordained and established "this Constitution for the United States of America."
In this formal compact THE PEOPLE specified the terms and conditions under which "ourselves and posterity," would be governed: granting some powers and withholding others, and organizing the powers granted with a view to preventing their misuse by the legislative, the executive, and the judicial branches alike. WE THE PEOPLE were authorized by natural right to do this, and were authorized to act on behalf of posterity only insofar as the rights of posterity to change those terms and conditions were respected. This was accomplished in Article V of the Constitution, the amending article, which prescribed the forms to be followed when exercising that power in the future.
The Framers had designed a constitutional structure for a government which would be limited by that structure - by the distribution of power into distinct departments, a system of legislative balances and checks, an independent judiciary, a system of representation, and an enlargement of the orbit "within which such systems are to revolve" And to the judges they assigned the duty, as "faithful guardians of the Constitution," to preserve the integrity of the structure, for it is by the structure (more than by "parchment barriers") that the government is limited. It would he only a slight exaggeration to say that, in the judgment of the Founders, the Constitution would "live" as long as that structure was preserved.
The Enduring American Constitution
Now, almost 200 years later, one can read Hamilton's words in Federalist No. 1 and conclude that, under some conditions, some "societies of men" are capable of "establishing good government," but that most are not. This is not for lack of trying; on the contrary, constitutions are being written all the time - of some 164 countries in the world, all but a small handful (seven by the latest count) have written constitutions - but most of them are not long-lived.
In September 1983, the American Enterprise Institute sponsored an international conference on constitution writing at the Supreme Court of the United States; some twenty-odd countries were represented. With the exception of the Americans, the persons present had themselves played a role - in some cases a major role - in the writing of their countries' constitutions, most of them written since 1970. Only the constitution of the French Fifth Republic predated 1970; and the Nigerian, so ably discussed and defended at the 1983 conference by one of its own Framers, had subsequently been subverted, much as the four previous French republican constitutions had been subverted. It would seem that many peoples are experienced in the writing of constitutions, but only a few of them - conspicuous among these the people of America - have an experience of stable constitutional government. In that sense, we surely have "a living Constitution." That is not, however, the sense in which the term is ordinarily used in the literature of constitutional law as shall be explored herein.
Treating The Constitution As
Lawyers lying. What a surprise.
If I argued vehemently to you on a bright sunny day that the sky was red, and gave all sorts of conclusions, would you argue with me - or just point to the blue sky overhead?
Likewise, I see no analysis in thi article of the actual ruling by Roberts. Gee, I wonder why - maybe it could it be this:
In his ruling, Roberts quoted Obamacare itself, at Title 26, § 5000A (g) (1), which reads:
The penalty provided by this section ... shall be assessed and collected in the same manner as an assessable penalty under subchapter B of chapter 68.
Then Roberts did this amazing, totally judicial thing that no one else can possibly do except someone with his vast power at their fingertips - he actually looked up the law that Obamacare quoted. And when he did, he found that subchapter B of chapter 68, specifically at § 6671 (a), says:
The penalties and liabilities provided by this subchapter shall be ... assessed and collected in the same manner as taxes. ...any reference in this title to "tax" imposed by this title shall be deemed also to refer to the penalties and liabilities provided by this subchapter.
Then, after reading these actual laws cited by Obamacare itself, Roberts made this blockbuster observation: "The requirement to pay is found in the Internal Revenue Code and enforced by the IRS, which-as we previously explained-must assess and collect it "in the same manner as taxes."
Let's see, Roberts said the penalty must be assessed and collected "in the same manner as taxes" after reading that Obamacare itself invokes § 6671 (a) - which literally and specifically states the penalty must be assessed and collected "in the same manner as taxes."
Wow, that's a radical ruling.
And what exactly is § 6671 (a)? It a part of the Internal Revenue Code that was there before Obamacare was even created! All Obamacare did was point to it, and say "use that."
So why weren't Americans enraged about how § 6671 (a) equates the treatment of penalties as taxes before Obamacare?
People can disagree with him if they want, but how the hell can anyone say Roberts is "legislating from the bench" when he simply repeats back pre-existing tax law that Obamacare references for itself? Of course, the answer to that question is simple - no one actually looked up the laws before they decided that their country had been "destroyed." Yet they're ready to fight a "revolution" over it!
A revolution for what - to make new laws that they still won't read?
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