Outrage: Supreme Court Launches SCOTUScare
The U.S. Constitution with one primary goal: to limit the amount of unchallenged power enjoyed by the federal government. Unfortunately, in the years since, we have seen that hallowed document weakened and the power of the government strengthened in a slow but sure trend that shows no signs of going into reverse. Instead of providing checks and balances, the three branches of government now engage in an unending form of collusion. The will of the American people is not even an afterthought; our democracy has been reduced to show and spectacle. Our country now operates from the top down.
In that light, we shouldn’t be surprised at the ruling in King v. Burwell. The Supreme Court may not have been able to cite much legal precedent in their pro-Obamacare ruling, but they have plenty of American precedent to fall back on. Failing that, they can always cite centuries of precedent from around the planet, using as their guide any and all examples of democracies fading into dictatorships. The greater good is a principle that can be – and has been – used to commit some of the most heinous evils in human history.
Despite all of this, conservatives remain America’s eternal optimists. Surely there was no way that the court could abandon its duty to the Constitution. Surely there was no way to interpret the wording of the statute to mean anything but what it said in black and white. Surely, these nine justices could not ignore the wealth of evidence before them that the Obama administration wanted to force states to set up their exchanges by denying federal subsidies to those that didn’t.
But somehow they managed to find a way.
Adding a little salt to the wound, the majority opinion was written up by none other than Chief Justice John Roberts, a man once hailed as a conservative hero. This is the second time Roberts has helped to save Obamacare; he was instrumental in turning back the challenge to the individual mandate in 2013. Now he’s at it again:
“Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them,” Roberts wrote. “If at all possible, we must interpret the Act in a way that is consistent with the former, and avoids the latter.”
It’s the kind of argument that you can’t help but agree with. The point of contention, indeed, is whether it was “at all possible” to interpret the Affordable Care Act in this way. The justices proved that it was, but their argument will leave many Americans wanting. As presidential contender Ted Cruz put it, they “hide their prevarication in legalese.” In other words, they come up with the ruling they want to make and then spend the rest of the time coming up with enough bovine excrement to make it sound like they know what they’re doing.
The ruling went 6-3 in favor of Obamacare. Justices Scalia, Thomas, and Alito opposed the majority, and Scalia was tapped to write the dissent. In it, he insisted that the court had engaged in “interpretive jiggery-pokery” to correct Congress’ mistakes. “We should start calling this law SCOTUScare,” he said.
We may as well. Because unless all three branches of the federal government decide that this healthcare law is no longer serving the “greater good,” it appears that we are stuck with the Affordable Care Act.