Campfire Blog

Obamacare Roundup: What Was John Roberts’ Thinking?

We mandate you to read this using our, uh, taxing power

Here are some of the best insights on the Supreme Court’s 5-4 determination that Obamacare, whether or not it is a bad law, is at least constitutional:

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal:

‎”Ironically, the Supreme Court has decided to be far more honest about Obamacare than Obama was. They rightly have called it a tax. Today’s decision is a blow to our freedoms. The Court should have protected our constitutional freedoms, but remember it was the President that forced this law on us.

“The American people did not want or approve of Obamacare then, and they do not now. Americans oppose it because it will decrease the quality of health care in America, raise taxes, cut Medicare, and break the bank. All of this is still true. Republicans must drive hard toward repeal, this is no time to go weak in the knees.”

Source: Louisiana Republican Party (1 page).

Charles Krauthammer said he would not have ruled the way that Chief Justice John Roberts did, but he respects his reasoning. Roberts, according to Krauthammer, is trying to maintain the legitimacy of the court, which the media would have assaulted if the ruling went the other way. Instead, Roberts found an incredibly narrow way to uphold the constitutionality of Obamacare—one that, incidentally, makes Obama one of the biggest tax-increasing presidents of all time.

Krauthammer writes:

“ObamaCare is now essentially upheld. There’s only one way it can be overturned. The same way it was passed — elect a new president and a new Congress. That’s undoubtedly what Roberts is saying: Your job, not mine. I won’t make it easy for you.”

Checkit out here (2 pages).

According to an anonymous commentator on a conservative blog (the most credible of sources! But an interesting commentary nevertheless), John Roberts’ move was genius:

“Ultimately, Roberts supported states rights by limiting the federal government’s coercive abilities. He ruled that the government can not force the people to purchase products or services under the commerce clause and he forced liberals to have to come clean and admit that Obama-care is funded by tax increases.

“Although he didn’t guarantee Romney a win, he certainly did more than his part and should be applauded.”

Read more here at (1 page).

My buddy Sonny Bunch at the curiously named argues that if we have the right to healthcare and can thus be forced to purchase insurance, the government should impose a gun mandate on all of us to fulfill the actual constitutional right to bear arms:

“[But] there will be some who still don’t want to own a gun. And that’s fine! The government won’t require you to purchase a gun. But if you choose not to purchase a gun—thus leaving yourself more likely to be a victim of crime and necessitating higher police costs, putting a drain on public resources and shirking your responsibility—you will have to pay a penalty or a tax. The IRS will collect it; it’ll just be a line on your 1040. Between $500 and $5,000 a year, depending on how much you make and where you live, should get the job done.

“The purchase of guns by the poor, of course, we will have to subsidize—anyone making 133% above the poverty rate who has never been convicted of a violent crime will be eligible for one free gun purchased by the government. For those between 133% and 300% of the poverty rate, we’ll have some sort of sliding subsidy. And to ensure that the middle class has easy access to cheap guns, we will create gun exchanges, where those with multiple firearms can meet up with those who have none and exchange cash for a used, cheaper gun.”

Read it at the Bunch Blog (1 page).

Ilya Shapiro of the Cato Institute pretty much nails the reason why we’d be better off without the individual mandate, citing Anthony Kennedy:

“As Justice Anthony Kennedy said in summarizing his four-justice dissent, “’Structure means liberty.’ If Congress can avoid the Constitution’s structural limits simply by “taxing” anything it doesn’t like, its power is no more limited than it would be had it done so under the Commerce Clause.”

Shapiro continues:

“we have reaped the fruits of two poisonous trees of constitutional jurisprudence: On the one (liberal activist) hand, there are no judicially administrable limits on federal power. On the other (conservative pacifist) one, we must defer to Congress and presume (or construe) its legislation to be constitutional. It is that tired old framework — with four justices in the former category and one in the latter — that produced the Frankenstein’s Monster of today’s ruling.

“What judges should be doing instead is applying the Constitution, no matter whether that leads to upholding or striking down legislation. And a correct application of the Constitution inevitably rests on the Madisonian principles of ordered liberty and limited government that the document embodies.”

And here’s a comical but true illustration of what the “individual mandate as tax” really means.

There’s plenty of disagreement about the ruling but there’s a strong consensus that the matter should—and will—ultimately be decided by the people this fall. Let’s get to the work of trying to keep the Republic a Republic. The high court’s decision might even reinvigorate the cause of liberty just in time for the 2012 election, as the Campfire Blog’s own T.J. Haley noted yesterday: “Every great coach knows that sometimes you have to lose in order to win” (1 paragraph).

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