Everyone on the right has their panties in a bunch and wants to execute John Roberts for his "betrayal". I know, I wanted to do the same a couple of days ago. Sure, Roberts could have voted en bloc with the conservatives and pissed off the left, legislated from the bench, and made the court look like a conservative entity while whipping up the left wing base to defeat Romney this fall. But.....he was smarter than that. He was smarter than most Republicans and smarter than ALL democrats except one, who tilted her hand to expose her leftist intents when the decision came down (I am referring to Ginsberg who knows exactly what Roberts was doing).
Had Roberts used his swing power to kill the law, doing so would have left open the issue of whether a citizen's non-compliance with the mandate to buy insurance initiated a tax or a penalty AND it would have left on the table the issue of the federal government being able to compel citizens to purchase anything it desired under the commerce clause.
Rightly, seven justices saw the error of the administration in attempting to coerce states to engage in the expansion of Medicaid, at their expense, or face having existing Medicaid support cut off. They rightly supported the tenth amendment on that point. But, when it came to the issue of the mandate, what was left undone, could have been as damaging to the people's freedom as the law itself.
Roberts, apparently at the last moment, by chance or design (we may never know), chose to lead the people to safer waters. It is a gamble but one that has tremendous upside for the people's freedoms and limited downside. Roberts action effectively ruled that the commerce clause of the Constitution of the US cannot be used to compel individuals to purchase anything. Ginsberg was openly miffed that the commerce clause did not support the law. She is an unbridled socialist and as such, was incensed that the federal government was determined to have limited powers under the commerce clause.
For those of you who don't think that the question of the commerce clause's limitations were decided here, read this part of Roberts majority opinion, in which he answers all of the objections of Ginsberg:
JUSTICE GINSBURG questions the necessity of rejecting the Government’s commerce power argument, given that §5000A can be upheld under the taxing power. Post, at 37. But the statute reads more naturally as a command to buy insurance than as a tax, and I would uphold it as a command if the Constitution allowed it. It is only because the Commerce Clause does not authorize such a command that it is necessary to reach the taxing power question. And it is only because we have a duty to construe a statute to save it, if fairly possible, that §5000A can be interpreted as a tax. Without deciding the Commerce Clause question, I would find no basis to adopt such a saving construction. The Federal Government does not have the power to order people to buy health insurance. Section 5000A would therefore be unconstitutional if read as a command. The Federal Government does have the power to impose a tax on those without health insurance.
Roberts has had the court establish that non-compliance with the mandate triggered a tax, not a penalty. It was also determined that the tax was NOT a direct tax. Therefore, it is an indirect tax that must be uniform among the people. Failure to comply is estimated at 4 million people. Of those, most will be poor, the class that was targeted for coverage at the onset of the debates. These folks may or may not be covered under the intended Medicaid expansion within the ACA. Democrats will have to defend their new tax and spend program which, if determined to require uniformity, and fails to do what it intended, will be forced to legislate yet another tax (like social security) on EVERYONE in order for the law to succeed in doing what the Democrats originally intended- full national coverage. Defense of any of that will be difficult for them. Nonetheless, Roberts left no doubt as to the silly arguments of the Obama administration: It's not a penalty. It's just another
As an unintended consequence, It is possible that this ruling establishes a precedent for the origination of tax law in either house. Or, Since the ACA IS a tax law, as SCOTUS has determined, then it may be arguable that it was improperly originated. If challenged again, would it be unconstitutional because it failed a proper legislative course? It remains to be seen.
It is interesting to note that non-compliance with the mandate is not criminal and no one will be compelled to buy insurance-ever. The IRS cannot use its force to collect the "shared responsibility payment" as it is called in the ACA.
As I see it, the law, as it is written, will be totally unworkable. States are not required to comply with the Medicaid expansion. The mandate is not enforceable because the law itself prevents enforceability. It is merely a tax for non-compliance. The mandate has no teeth. They cannot criminally prosecute the non-compliant. The formation of state HC insurance exchanges will be pointless. The goal will not be achieved because total uniform coverage will not be achieved. It will be a complete failure hung around the necks of the Democrats.
The Obama Administration had its head handed to it by this decision and the left hasn't noticed....yet.