Monday, July 2, 2012

Roberts' Russian Roulette

I sat in stunned yet stoic silence Thursday morning as my coworker told me the news that the Supreme Court had upheld Obamacare.  I was determined not to get worked up about it.  That determination was severely tested when details started to come in.  The culprit was not Justice Anthony Kennedy, as would be expected of the notorious swing vote of the SCOTUS.  Kennedy not only sided with the conservative minority about the unconstitutionality of the law’s infamous individual mandate, he joined them in wanting to throw out the whole law.  The culprit, of course, was Chief Justice John Roberts, who is supposed to be a conservative jurist, a strict constructionist wanting to uphold the original intent of the Constitution and the rule of law.

And indeed, Roberts argued strongly in his opinion that Obamacare and the individual mandate would be a gross violation and abuse of the commerce clause, but guess what?  Despite what the President and Obamacare's  proponents and the law itself clearly say to the contrary, Roberts inexplicably declared that the law’s penalty for not buying insurance is not a penalty at all, but rather a tax.  Because taxation is one of Congress’ enumerated powers--voil√†—the law is constitutional!

As dumbfounded as I was by Roberts’ betrayal and the verbal gymnastics he used to turn plain language on its head, I was even more perplexed by the positive spin that came from conservative pundits and bloggers.  Oh, this is a good thing they say.  In one fell swoop, Roberts has reined in Congress’ abuse of the commerce clause, kept the court above the political fray and, more importantly, forced the country to deal with Obamacare politically—at the ballot box, and that will surely help Republicans.  One headline went so far as to say, “Did Chief Justice Roberts just hand Romney the White House?”

Sorry, but I don’t buy it.  Throwing Obamacare out the window would not only have upheld respect for the Constitution and the rule of law, but perhaps—just perhaps—would have given the private sector enough confidence to jump back into the water and start investing resources and hiring people. By allowing to stand a law that is not only unconstitutional but onerously burdensome and damaging to the country both individually and corporately, the SCOTUS has sent the clear message that it is not safe to get back into the water, and it will not be unless and until we decide the matter politically.

While I do indeed hope and pray that a major political reversal in November will keep this country from going off the cliff, I sometimes wonder if the country will even survive that long, particularly as we continue to borrow forty cents on every dollar we spend.  Even if we do survive, I wish I had a level of certainty whether we will indeed change course, or whether a majority of the country will fall prey to the demagoguery and class warfare of the Democratic left and their water carriers in the media.  After three and a half years of chronic unemployment, a moribund economy, skyrocketing deficits a weakened nation on its knees both domestically and abroad, and the overwhelming evidence that the President is indeed the radical ideologue that conservatives warned he would be:  it is both dumfounding and downright scary to think that the President even has a shot at re-election.  His numbers should be in the basement, yet polls show him as being competitive if not slightly ahead of Mitt Romney.

By allowing Obamacare’s trampling of the Constitution to stand and leaving the fate of the republic to the whims of a fickle and pliable electorate, Chief Justice Roberts is  playing Russian roulette with the republic.  God help us. 

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