The Roberts principle which gives the Congress unlimited power over the American people
I hadn’t read any of the Supreme Court’s decision on Obamacare until now. I wanted to know, “Did Roberts really write something that stupid?”
He did. Here’s the full document at NRO. The pregnant-with-stupidity passage is from page 32, which has the running title at the top, “Opinion of Roberts, C.J.” Here’s the passage including the prime stupidity, with boldface added by me:
Under the mandate, if an individual does not maintain health insurance, the only consequence is that he must make an additional payment to the IRS when he pays his taxes. See §5000A(b). That, according to the Government, means the mandate can be regarded as establishing a condition—not owning health insurance—that triggers a tax—the required payment to the IRS. Under that theory, the mandate is not a legal command to buy insurance. Rather, it makes going without insurance just another thing the Government taxes, like buying gasoline or earning income. And if the mandate is in effect just a tax hike on certain taxpayers who do not have health insurance, it may be within Congress’s constitutional power to tax.
This reminds me of the riddle attributed to Abraham Lincoln:
The question is not whether that is the most natural interpretation of the mandate, but only whether it is a “fairly possible” one. Crowell v. Benson, 285 U. S. 22, 62 (1932). As we have explained, “every reasonable construction must be resorted to, in order to save a statute from unconstitutionality.”
Q: If I call a tail a “leg,” how many legs does a dog have?
A. Four; calling a tail a “leg” doesn’t make it a leg.
So Roberts, C.J., thinks (a) that the statement, “it makes going without insurance just another thing the Government taxes, like buying gasoline or earning income,” is a reasonable construction of the law; and (b) that this construction makes the law constitutional!
It’s beyond belief. In all the annals of the Living Constitution, it is hard to recall offhand anything as sick and perverted as this—and from a “conservative” chief justice, no less.
For this decision, Roberts’s name deserves to go down in infamy. And the conservatives who have praised him for it either have lost their minds or are as unprincipled as he. Their judgment should not be trusted again.
By Roberts’s reasoning,
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(a) a person who does not buy medical insurance is NOT engaging in interstate commerce and his non-purchase of medical insurance CANNOT come under the regulatory power of Congress; BUT
(b) a person who does not buy medical insurance can be FINED by the Congress for not buying medical insurance, and this fine is a “tax” which the Congress DOES have the unlimited power to levy on him.
The spectacular irony is that the pro-Roberts conservatives praise Roberts for denying that Congress has the power under the Interstate Commerce clause to force people who have not purchased medical insurance to pay a penalty for not purchasing it, even as those same conservatives also praise Roberts for creating a new power of Congress to force people who have not purchased medical insurance to pay a penalty for not purchasing it, if that penalty is called a tax.
Neil Parille writes:
Congress is forbidden by the First Amendment from compelling people to attend church; but it can tax people for not going.
Absolutely. We need to make a list of the kinds of laws Congress can now pass using the Roberts principle.
How about this: Congress tells all people with above a certain income that they must adopt a child from the inner city or from Africa, and if they decline to do it, they can be “taxed,” because not having an adopted black child in your home is just another thing the Government taxes, like buying gasoline or earning income.
Or this: Congress commands that all home owners in America must fly an LGBT rainbow flag in a prominent place on their house, and if they decline to do this, they can be “taxed,” because not having an LBGT rainbow flag flying over your home is just another thing the Government taxes, like buying gasoline or earning income.
Or this: Congress commands that all individuals in America must donate a certain percentage of their income to Occupy Wall Street or similar organizations, and if they decline to do this, they can be “taxed,” because not giving a certain percentage of your income to the Occupy movement is just another thing the Government taxes, like buying gasoline or earning income.
Or this: Congress orders that all private schools in America must have a student body that is at least one-half nonwhite; and any school that fails to do this can be “taxed,” because not having a half-nonwhite student body is just another thing the Government taxes, like buying gasoline or earning income. (Note: this law supercedes the tax-exempt status of private schools.)
Or this: Congress passes a law saying that one half of the executives and of the board of directors of every business corporation in America must be women, and one third must be nonwhite, and any corporation that fails to meet these guidelines can be “taxed,” because not having the requisite percentage of female and nonwhite executives and board of director members in your corporation is just another thing the Government taxes, like buying gasoline or earning income.
David P. writes:
Or this: Congress commands that all individuals in America must buy a TV set (to be educated by the leftist media), or else pay a tax, because not owning a TV is just another thing the Government taxes, like buying gasoline or earning income.
We in Europe are witnessing the dying throes of the socialist EU. Just like the USSR, it is imploding due to inbuilt contradictions. The sad aspect is that we, just like the Russians, will have to re-build from the wreckage. You in America, unfortunately, are on the first leg of this journey.
Roland D. writes:
The hidden gem is that if Obamacare is in effect a tax, it’s prima facie unconstitutional, since it originated in the Senate and not the House.
This is another of the arguments telling us that the Roberts decision is “really” a victory for our side.
Posted by Lawrence Auster at June 30, 2012 09:27 PM | Send
But in reality, what good does your point do us? The liberals have it any way they wish. They pass the law one way when that suits their purposes, and they interpret it another way, when that suits their purposes. So the contradiction you point to does not help us at all.