Last week supporters and opponents of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act anxiously awaited the Supreme Court’s ruling on the law’s individual health insurance mandate. Imagine their surprise when the Court announced, in a majority opinion by Chief Justice John Roberts, that there is no individual health insurance mandate.
Rather than a “penalty” imposed on anyone who “fails to comply” with the “requirement to maintain minimum essential coverage,” which is how the law itself describes the policy, Roberts perceived a “tax” that hinges on whether one follows the government’s totally nonmandatory guidelines regarding health insurance. This implausible relabeling of reality was Roberts’ desperate attempt to uphold the provision formerly known as a mandate without endorsing a boundless view of Congress’ power to regulate interstate commerce. Instead he endorsed a boundless view of Congress’ tax power that could prove even more dangerous to liberty… via Reason.com.
(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton issued the following statement today regarding the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare:
This Supreme Court majority rewrote Obamacare and then upheld its constitutionality. This decision is monstrous and upends the constitutional limits on federal power. That the Chief Justice would join the Court’s liberal block to legislate from the bench is shocking. Instead of calling the law Obamacare, we can fairly call it “Robertscare.”
Justice Kagan’s controversial decision to participate in this case despite unanswered questions about her role in defending Obamacare while working in the Obama administration also taints the High Court’s decision.
The Court’s decision will contribute to the public’s concern that our government is out of control and acting without constitutional authority. The rule of law suffered a stinging blow today.
On February 13, 2012, Judicial Watch filed an amicus curiae brief with the High Court challenging the constitutionality of Obamacare, specifically the “individual mandate.” In its brief Judicial Watch maintained that the “individual mandate” provision of Obamacare, which requires every American citizen to purchase health care insurance or pay a penalty, is unconstitutional – whether considered under Congress’ commerce power or taxing power:
Petitioners are trying to defend a provision in an act passed by Congress that exceeds its enumerated powers. Though Congress enacted this provision under the Commerce Clause, Congress’ power under the clause is not broad enough to compel Americans to engage in commerce by purchasing a particular product. Though Petitioners try to rescue the provision by arguing that it is valid under Congress’ taxing power even if it is invalid under Congress’ commerce power, a provision of an act that is not a tax may not be construed as a tax merely to save it from being declared unconstitutional.
Judicial Watch further argued that if the Supreme Court affirmed the constitutionality of the individual mandate, “it must be willing to hold that Congress’ powers under the Commerce clause are plenary and unlimited, for there remains no principled way to limit Congress’ power if it is stretched as far as Petitioners (the Obama administration) ask.”
Judicial Watch also uncovered documents detailing Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan’s role in Obamacare discussions when she served as President Obama’s Solicitor General.
The Supreme Court’s Obamacare ruling on Thursday cuts right to the very fabric of the relationship between a once-limited government and a once-free citizen, but the eternal struggle between liberty and tyranny endures. It is a beginning, not an end.
As enormously important as the high court’s Obamacare ruling is – and it’s huge – it’s not the final word. The legal and political dust has not yet settled, and it will take some time for the unpredictable ripples to form the powerful waves of history. Yet, history waits for no man, so we begin by asking: What now? Continue reading