Our View: ObamaCare’s Last Mile?

June 28, 2012

Roberts with then-President Bush in 2005

“What matters on the Supreme Court is those 5 percent of cases that are truly difficult. In those cases, adherence to precedent and rules of construction and interpretation will only get you through the 25th mile of the marathon,” Barack Obama told his Senate colleagues in 2005. “That last mile can only be determined on the basis of one’s deepest values, one’s core concerns, one’s broader perspectives on how the world works, and the depth and breadth of one’s empathy.”

And then Mr. Obama joined 21 of the most liberal members of the Senate in voting against the confirmation of John Roberts to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Who would have guessed then that the Chief Justice would be the one running the anchor leg of that marathon, ultimately carrying the ObamaCare baton across the constitutional finish line yesterday?

In a move that shocked most political observers, Roberts’ ruling upheld, as a legitimate exercise of Congress’ power to tax, the controversial requirement that every American purchase health insurance.

Putting aside for a moment that the President repeatedly assured American’s that ObamaCare wasn’t a tax hike, we’d like to ask a question: If it’s perfectly legal for the government to impose a tax on us in order to compel us to purchase something we don’t want, then what exactly can’t the government make us do?

It’s a fair question, and one that Justices Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas and Alito, raised in their dissent.

“The Government was invited, at oral argument, to suggest what federal controls over private conduct (other than those expressly prohibited by the Bill of Rights or other constitutional controls) could not be justified as necessary and proper for the carrying out of a general regulatory scheme,” they wrote. “It was unable to name any.”

You read that right: It was unable to name any. According to the Obama Administration, nothing we do as individuals is beyond the scope of government regulation. And that’s something every American should think carefully about.

After all, as the dissent notes, “[i]f Congress can reach out and command even those furthest removed from an interstate market to participate in the market, then the Commerce Clause becomes a font of unlimited power, or in Hamilton’s words, ‘a hideous monster whose devouring jaws… spare neither sex nor age, nor high nor low, nor sacred nor profane.’”

As you might imagine, supporters of the Hideous Monster cheered the ruling.

A giddy ProgressNow called the decision “a lifesaving victory for millions of Americans”, and MSNBC’s Steven Benen blasted the dissenters as “four justices on the Supreme Court who effectively want to overturn the 20th century.”

But the left may want to think twice about celebrating. The Romney campaign reportedly raised more than $2 million in the hours immediately after the decision as energized conservatives pulled out their checkbooks and debit cards.

The individual mandate remains deeply unpopular with voters, notwithstanding the court’s ruling – a key point that the GOP nominee underscored in his reaction to the decision.

“What the court did today was say that Obamacare does not violate the Constitution,” said Romney. “What they did not do was say that Obamacare is good law or that it’s good policy.”

In other words, while Mr. Roberts may have handed conservatives a bitter defeat today, he may also have handed Mr. Romney and Republicans a winning campaign issue heading into the election homestretch.


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