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Victory in Defeat

by on June 29, 2012

The Supreme Court’s health-care ruling reaffirmed limits to Congress’s authority.

…What must not go unnoticed is the fact that with parts of its decision today, the Court reaffirmed certain important core principles. The Court reminded the federal government that it has limited and enumerated powers. While the federal government is supreme in its sphere, it is not permitted to operate outside of its constitutionally defined role.

The Court expressly rejected the federal government’s assertion that it could use the Commerce Clause to force citizens to engage in commerce for the sole purpose of regulating them. A majority of the Court held that the commerce power reaches only those who are currently engaged in commercial activities. It does not reach those who are not engaged in commerce, even if those very same people are likely to engage in commerce in the future. Thus, the Court explicitly adopted the activity/inactivity distinction that opponents of the law had championed and that liberal commentators had ridiculed.

Some will suggest that this is no victory at all, given the Court’s ruling that the money one must pay for failing to obtain insurance can be supported as a use of Congress’s taxing power. However, by confining within the taxing power the ability of Congress to adopt such schemes, the Court has greatly limited Congress’s ability and political appetite to attempt them in the future. 

Now everyone will know that when Congress does something like this, it is without question a tax increase. Is there any doubt that if PPACA had been presented as a middle-class tax increase, it would have failed?

Because the American people have made clear that elected officials raise taxes at their peril, it is unlikely will we see this particular gambit repeated.

Another thing to note is that Chief Justice Roberts’s opinion on the taxing power is limited. He noted that it could not be considered punitive because the amount citizens are required to pay for not having insurance is far less than they would have to pay to obtain insurance. He strongly suggests that, if Congress were to require citizens to pay an amount greater than the costs of insurance, that would constitute a penalty, and thus would be unconstitutional.

  1. Maybe there was some behind-the-scenes threatening or ransom?

  2. guitargod permalink

    ALLLLLL CRAPOLA!!!!!!!!!!! NO victory AT ALL!! – just lawlessness w/ the only “precedent” being overturn other courts in future including this one! & we all know whose side is the only one who does that! enough w/ the positive spin crap!!!!!!!!!!

    • Agree! But what’s done is done. We need to call it what it’s been deemed now, a TAX! Watch out libs, the Tea Party’s coming to town!

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