I know that the Right have their panties all in a bunch over the Supreme Court’s ruling yesterday regarding the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare). Even though the Court would not strike down the Act, there is some reason for optimism, and a deeper understanding of the Supreme Court’s role in our Government. The framers of our Constitution had good reason to set up a system of checks and balances between the three branches of Government. It is a delicate balance indeed, which I think was articulated well by Chief Justice Robert’s opinion. He said, and I paraphrase: “It is not the job of the Court to protect Americans from their own political decisions”. In other words, you get the government you deserve. Reap what you sow, and do not expect the Supreme Court to bail you out when you’ve made a mistake. Now that is harsh, but it cuts to the very heart of our political system, and teaches us a lesson we should not soon forget.
Justice Robert’s words were carefully nuanced with regard to the difference between a penalty and a tax. Regardless of what the Obama administration called it, Roberts clearly stated that the mandate could not stand by way of the Commerce Clause if failure to participate resulted in a fine or penalty. Further, his language clearly limits Congressional authority to make Americans buy anything, (like a GM car). They have no authority over commerce that does not exist. Only by levying a tax, (like a tariff on imported goods) can Congress exercise its Constitutional powers to force participation in the Government’s health insurance program. That is a huge plum for Republicans and Governor Romney. Now they will be able to point to this as a massive tax increase on the middle class. Perhaps the largest tax increase in history, and they will be able to lay it in total at the feet of the incumbent, Barack Obama.
We could not reasonably expect the Supreme Court to decide the merits or appropriateness of the Affordable Care Act. That is beyond their scope of authority. Their job is to determine the limits and appropriateness of the actions of Congress or the Executive Branch. We on the Right are always complaining about “activist judges” legislating from the bench, and yet in this case we expected the Supreme Court to do that very thing.
What initially appeared to be a sound defeat is in some ways a challenge delivered to the American people by the Chief Justice. If you don’t like the way things are going, and you’ve decided that you made a mistake, don’t expect the Courts to help you out. Your opportunity to correct that is coming in November. Justice Roberts, inadvertently or by design has awakened and energized a sleeping giant as the outrage spreads across the Country and political orientations. The Romney campaign which normally receives about $140,000 per day in contributions, logged $4.6 million in the 24 hours following the Court’s decision.
I don’t know if Justice Roberts was paving the road to an Obama defeat, but the Court’s decision did one thing for sure: It kept Obamacare alive as a campaign issue. Had the Affordable Care Act been declared unconstitutional, it would have faded into the past, never to be mentioned again by the Left in America. As it stands now, Obama will have to continue defending it until November 6th. In addition, his Democratic minions who voted for it in Congress will have to defend their support of the Bill in their individual re-election bids. It couldn’t be better for their Republican opponents.
The lesson of the day is this: True political change comes about in the ballot box, not the chambers of the Supreme Court.
Originally posted on 06/29/2012 at ConservativeCompass.com