The ruling on the constitutionality of ObamaCare as been parsed, sliced and dissected, but has anyone noticed that the court basically held that Congress may not coerce states into doing something but it may coerce the people?
The opinion found states could not be coerced by threat of penalty to expand Medicaid coverage, but the people themselves may be coerced into buying health insurance rather than pay a “tax.”
Those who must behave as their government overlords dictate are not citizens, they are subjects.
The ruling basically tears the concept embodied in the Tenth Amendment in half. The powers not delegated to the federal government are reserved to the states respectively, but not the people.
This is how Chief Justice John Roberts explained the rationale, basically arguing ObamaCare may not be a good idea but Congress can do it:
“We do not consider whether the Act embodies sound policies. That judgment is entrusted to the Nation’s elected leaders. We ask only whether Congress has the power under the Constitution to enact the challenged provisions.
“In our federal system, the National Government possesses only limited powers; the States and the people retain the remainder. Nearly two centuries ago, Chief Justice Marshall observed that ‘the question respecting the extent of the powers actually granted’ to the Federal Government ‘is perpetually arising, and will probably continue to arise, as long as our system shall exist.’ … In this case we must again determine whether the Constitution grants Congress powers it now asserts, but which many States and individuals believe it does not possess. Resolving this controversy requires us to examine both the limits of the Government’s power, and our own limited role in policing those boundaries.”
While the majority agreed with the contention that under the law “Congress is coercing the States to adopt the changes it wants by threatening to withhold all of a State’s Medicaid grants, unless the State accepts the new expanded funding and complies with the conditions that come with it,” they had no such compunction when it comes to us mere subjects who may be coerced, compelled and extorted into behaving in any way the Congress so chooses through the power of taxation.
I find it interesting that in a footnote the majority found a rather apt analogy for the degree of state coercion allowed, but could not find a similar one for the people. “More importantly,” the footnote observes, “the size of the new financial burden imposed on a State is irrelevant in analyzing whether the State has been coerced into accepting that burden. ‘Your money or your life’ is a coercive proposition, whether you have a single dollar in your pocket or $500.”
To illustrate the court’s expansive view of the power of the federal government to manipulate through taxation, here is a lengthy passage from the majority. Be patient and slog through it to see just how unlimited, unchecked, unabated that power can be:
“If it is troubling to interpret the Commerce Clause as authorizing Congress to regulate those who abstain from commerce, perhaps it should be similarly troubling to permit Congress to impose a tax for not doing something.”
They should have ended it there, but no:
“Three considerations allay this concern. First, and most importantly, it is abundantly clear the Constitution does not guarantee that individuals may avoid taxation through inactivity. A capitation, after all, is a tax that everyone must pay simply for existing, and capitations are expressly contemplated by the Constitution. The Court today holds that our Constitution protects us from federal regulation under the Commerce Clause so long as we abstain from the regulated activity. But from its creation, the Constitution has made no such promise with respect to taxes. See Letter from Benjamin Franklin to M. Le Roy (Nov. 13, 1789) (“Our new Constitution is now established … but in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes”).”
I always thought that quote was meant to be a pejorative rather than a blank check.
“Whether the mandate can be upheld under the Commerce Clause is a question about the scope of federal authority. Its answer depends on whether Congress can exercise what all acknowledge to be the novel course of directing individuals to purchase insurance. Congress’s use of the Taxing Clause to encourage buying something is, by contrast, not new. Tax incentives already promote, for example, purchasing homes and professional educations. … Sustaining the mandate as a tax depends only on whether Congress has properly exercised its taxing power to encourage purchasing health insurance, not whether it can. Upholding the individual mandate under the Taxing Clause thus does not recognize any new federal power. It determines that Congress has used an existing one.”
The court just gave the Congress the green light to tax each and every one of use at 110 percent of income and assets and then allow deductions for health insurance, home purchases, tuition, electric cars, bicycles, broccoli, granola, recycled clothing, solar panels, windmills and anything else a lobbyist can bribe a majority of Congress to include.
Now that ObamaCare’s penalty for not buying insurance is instead a permissible tax that still leaves whatever Congress and president the voters choose in November with an opportunity to repeal it. But it also means that in 2014 when the “tax” kicks in, the Anti-Injunction Act expires and someone who pays the tax can file suit and start the litigation all over again.
Then perhaps the dissenting opinion of Antonin Scalia and the other conservative justices can hold sway:
“What is absolutely clear, affirmed by the text of the 1789 Constitution, by the Tenth Amendment ratified in 1791, and by innumerable cases of ours in the 220 years since, is that there are structural limits upon federal power — upon what it can prescribe with respect to private conduct, and upon what it can impose upon the sovereign States. Whatever may be the conceptual limits upon the Commerce Clause and upon the power to tax and spend, they cannot be such as will enable the Federal Government to regulate all private conduct and to compel the States to function as administrators of federal programs.
“That clear principle carries the day here. The striking case of Wickard v. Filburn, 317 U. S. 111 (1942), which held that the economic activity of growing wheat, even for one’s own consumption, affected commerce sufficiently that it could be regulated, always has been regarded as the ne plus ultra of expansive Commerce Clause jurisprudence. To go beyond that, and to say the failure to grow wheat (which is not an economic activity, or any activity at all) nonetheless affects commerce and therefore can be federally regulated, is to make mere breathing in and out the basis for federal prescription and to extend federal power to virtually all human activity.”
I think that is pretty much what the majority said. You breathe, you are subject to the dictates of the Kremlin on the Potomac.