Skip to comments.Impeach the Supreme Court Justices If They Overturn Health-Care Law
Posted on 04/04/2012 10:51:02 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
You think the idea is laughable? Thomas Jefferson disagreed with you.
Jefferson believed Supreme Court justices who undermine the principles of the Constitution ought to be impeached, and that wasnt just idle talk. During his presidency, Jefferson led the effort to oust Justice Salmon Chase, arguing that Chase was improperly seizing power. The Senate acquitted Chase in 1805, and no Justice has been impeached since, but as the Supreme Court threatens to nullify the health-care law, Jeffersons idea is worth revisiting.
The problem with the current court is not merely that there is a good chance it will strike down a clearly constitutional law. The problem is that this decision would be the latest salvo in what seems to be a sustained effort on the part of the Roberts Court to return the country to the Gilded Age.
During that periodwhich ran from the years after of the Civil War to the start of the 20th centurywealth became highly concentrated and corporations came to dominate American business.
At the close of the Gilded Age, the U.S. infant mortality rate was around 10 percenta number you find today in impoverished Central African nations. In some cities, it exceeded 30 percent. Women could not vote, and their lives were controlled by men. Blacks lived apart from whites and comprised an economic, social, and political underclass. Corporations exerted an unchecked and deleterious influence on the lives of workers.
All these ills were ultimately addressed by the federal government, but the strongest and most sustained resistance to fixing them came from the court. One exception was the great Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, who argued that where economic regulations are at stake, judges must respect legislative decisions aimed at protecting societys most vulnerable members. Our Constitution, Holmes famously wrote, does not enact social Darwinism. If the legislature acts to protect the poor and less powerful, its actions must be respected by the judicial branch.
That idea doesnt appear to hold much water with the current court. Justice Clarence Thomas, in particular, has a well-known affinity for the values of the Gilded Age. But he has quietly gone from being an outlier to being only one of five consistently regressive votes.
The pattern began with the courts 2007 decision in Gonzales v. Carhart, a case involving a rarely used, late-term abortion procedure. In holding that the government can prohibit abortion even where a womans life or health is at risk, the court overturned a decision that was not yet 10 years old.
To justify the ruling, Justice Anthony Kennedyan ostensibly staunch believer in individual libertyexplained that some women who might otherwise undergo it would come to regret their decision. Ah, fickle women! Since Roe v. Wade the abortion debate has always involved male-dominated legislatures enacting laws telling women what they can and cannot do. The Roberts Court, it seems, is similarly not averse to helping protect women from themselves.
Also in 2007, the court ruled that a Seattle school districts plan to achieve racial balance in its public schools was unconstitutional. Reasonable people can of course disagree about whether using race to arrive at a diverse student body is good policy or bad. But there is an unquestionable moral distinction between using race to encourage racial integration versus using race to keep the blacks away.
The latter is, of course, what the court allowed in 1896, when it upheld the so-called separate but equal doctrine in Plessy v. Ferguson. Justice Harlan famously dissented in Plessy, insisting that the Constitution is colorblind. In a perverse rhetorical move, Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for the court in the Seattle case, suggested that Harlan's phrase applies equally where the government is trying to promote the blending of the races rather than maintaining their separation.
And then came Citizens United, in which the court struck down a popularly supported, bipartisan effort to place limits on the ability of the wealthy to dominate political discourse. Income inequality is a fact of life in a capitalist system. But when it comes to choosing our elected representatives, the people are supposed to stand on equal footing. Your right to control your destiny by electing people who share your visions and values is not supposed to depend on the fatness of your wallet. But now, thanks to five justices, it does. In ruling that corporations have a First Amendment right that precludes Congress from regulating how much money they can spend to support political candidates or causes, the court propped up a regime where the voices of the wealthy drown out all the rest.
Each of these cases was decided by a 5-4 vote, along predictable and ideological lines. Each overturned comparatively recent precedent. Each paid obeisance to a 19th-century norm. And while any individual ruling can always be justified or explained away, a larger truth emerges ineluctably from the whole. A decision overturning the Affordable Care Act will fit snugly into this narrative.
The vacuity of the arguments against the health-care law has been well covered (see especially Akhil Amars analysis in Slate). I will add only two points.
First, Congresss authority in passing the law rests on an elementary syllogism: You don't have to drive, but if you do, the government can make you buy insurance. The logical structure at work here is that if you are going to do something (drive, for example), the government can make you purchase a commercial product (insurance, for example), so long as it has a good reason for doing so (making sure you can pay for any damage you do). That logic is obviously satisfied in the health-care context. You are going to use medical care, so the government can make you buy insurance in order to make sure you can pay for it. Liberty, like every other human and constitutional right, is not absolute. Under some circumstances, it can be regulated.
Which leads to the second point: critics of the health-care law say the only reason the rest of us have to pay for medical services used by people who have no money is that laws require hospitals to treat people who come in for emergencies regardless of their ability to pay. In other words, the critics say, the only reason there is a social costthe only reason the syllogism worksis because of the underlying laws requiring hospitals to treat the poor.
Unlike silly examples involving broccoli and cell phones, that so-called bootstrap argument is sound. But here the critics drop their ideological mask as surely as the court dropped it in the Gonzales ruling. Their argument can be restated thusly: if you repeal laws requiring hospitals to treat the poor, you eliminate the constitutional basis for mandatory insurance coverage.
You dont have to pull the analytical thread of that reasoning very hard to see that it boils down to an argument for allowing the poor to die. And if the Supreme Court strikes down the health-care law, that is exactly the ideology it will have to embrace. It will be saying that Congress cannot guarantee medical coverage for the poor and then implement a system to pay for it. In other words, the only people entitled to health care are the people who can afford it.
The last time the court went down this path, saner heads prevailed. Oliver Wendell Holmess view was historically and constitutionally correct, and the court finally acknowledged this in a pivotal 1937 case, West Coast Hotel v. Parish. In West Coast Hotel, the court ruled that the Constitution safeguards not just individual liberty but community interests as well; and in matters of economics, it is the legislatures job to strike the appropriate balance between those two. If the Roberts Court overturns the Affordable Care Act, it will be mimicking the discredited court of 1935.
We can argue about whether President Jefferson was right to try to impeach Justice Chase. But theres no question that he was right to say that impeachment is an option for justices who undermine constitutional values. There are other options, as well. We might amend the Constitution to establish judicial term limits. Or we might increase the number of justices to dilute the influence of its current members (though FDR could tell you how that turned out). In the end, however, it is the duty of the people to protect the Constitution from the court. Social progress cannot be held hostage by five unelected men.
Yes they do.
They believe like a acolyte in a monastery..............
Nowhere in the Constitution did it grant Congress the power to mandate anybody buy anything. And Jefferson once said something to the effect “If the government were to direct us
to plant wheat we should soon want for bread.” and elsewhere Jefferson said “to compel a man to furnish funds for the propagation of ideas he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.” IMO if the supreme Court FAILS to nullify ObamaCare they will have failed to honor their Oath of Office and ought be impeached.Obama’s health care reform is UNconstitutional root and stock.
"At the close of the Gilded Age, the U.S. infant mortality rate was around 10 percenta number you find today in impoverished Central African nations. "
Which was the lowest infant mortality rate in U.S. history. It's completely unfair to compare a rate then to current rates, and what does that have to do with the court anyway. Besides you want a fair comparison, include abortion in the infant mortality rates. Is the court trying to raise the infant mortality rate? No. A red herring.
"Women could not vote, and their lives were controlled by men."
Again, That wasn't due to the court in the Gilded age, that was due to the founding fathers and all of western history that preceded them. Is the court trying to take away women's right to vote. No. A red herring.
"Blacks lived apart from whites and comprised an economic, social, and political underclass."
Again, what does that have to do with this court or the court in the Gilded Age. Nothing. A red herring.
"Corporations exerted an unchecked and deleterious influence on the lives of workers."
This is the only thing that the current court has actually touched on. And since the article doesn't expound on how times might be similar or what the court did or didn't do, it's a worthless article.
HA_HA, Mark Levin recommended some of those things in 2005 before the GWB appointees to the SCOTUS. The roles have flipped completely.
Men In Black:
How the Supreme Court is Destroying America
Author: Mark R. Levin
Date of Publication: February 2005
Levin's 2005 Men in Black (brief Sample and summary)
How about impeaching members of congress and the president for not upholding the constitution they’ve sworn to protect?
The constitution trumps federal statute. To make the mandate constitutional, you’d need an ammendment.
Nothing wrong w/the court pointing that out.
Impeachment proceedings for the 4 social liberal justices that are totally unfamiliar with the Constitution. They have no business being on the bench. Does anyone ever listen to Newt? He is right. Too bad we are going to get a Romney that is not much better than King Obama on many things.
Obama and friends will go around the court’s decision, if not ignore it outright.
Someti8ng tells me our country is about to be torn to pieces one way or the other or both.
A big chunk of the electorate would love that to happen, say in about September of this year.
No barfing chunks alert?
“Do these people REALLY believe this excrement theyre spewing?”
Why yes, they do.
And they will NEVER let go of their beliefs, even if reason and reality is staring them right in the eyes.
Here’s a question for you:
Do you REALLY believe that reconciliation with the left is possible?
How about we impeach them if they DON’T overturn it
Auto insurance laws are state laws, so the syllogism in terms of a federal fails first on that score at the outset.
It also fails because the requirement to buy insurance doesn't arise until you actually have a car, despite the risk that uninsured people can (and do) drive anyway.
So, if there was a federal requirement that all people buy car insurance, regardless of whether they owned a car or even had a license, that might make a nice anology. But that's not the case, is it?
Like my retarded state.
The author of this piece is an intellectual lightweight.
Yes let’s impeach the liberals on the court who look to today’s international laws and other countries laws to determine what is constitutional in America.
Yeah it is. That's the sum total of your problem with this court at this time. If they were considered likely to uphold that crummy law, this author would be singing their praises to the rooftops.
This author is lying through his teeth, and what's more, he knows it, and he knows (or should know) that WE know it.
So, that being the case, what's his point?
Notice they didn’t have this view after the Kelo decision. Funny how things work out that way.
Eat yer f****g peas and shut up, plebian.