July 2, 2012 by Jim Edsall
On June 28, 2012, the United States Supreme Court ruled that the mandate to purchase health insurance in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“ObamaCare”) is constitutional. Chief Justice John Roberts joined the liberal wing of the court to form a majority upholding the law, and how he reached that conclusion is highly problematic for all Americans. Writing the majority opinion, Roberts declared that “penalties” imposed for failure to purchase health insurance are not permissible under the Commerce Clause, but that they are constitutional as a “tax”. In so doing, he strayed far beyond the limits of the role of the court, re-writing a statute in the name of deference to the legislature, and disregarding precedent established by previous tax cases.
By this ruling, Roberts greatly expanded the power of Congress to impose punitive penalties on people who do not behave as they wish. The government can now punish you with a tax if you don’t buy an energy efficient house, or a GM car, or, yes, even broccoli. Liberals who applaud this ruling, beware – one day a different Congress and President could use this power in ways that you would not like. A law could now be passed declaring that unless a person joins the military and serves a minimum of two years he or she will be charged $2000.00 per year until they change their mind and join. Under the precedent set by John Roberts’ ruling, such a law would be “constitutional”. The government wouldn’t be telling anyone that they have to join, just that if they don’t they would have to pay for their “non-participation” and for being a “free rider”. They can even call it a “penalty” to avoid the political fall-out of calling it a “tax”. The government would just take it out of their tax refund, just like with ObamaCare.
If you are not already bothered by the effect of this decision, consider the twisted reasoning by which it was reached. Continue reading