Obamacare & the Constitution

The Obamacare hearings at the Supreme Court continue today. The focus will be on the individual mandate. The Obama lawyers will try to argue that the Commerce Clause of the Constitution gives permission to make everyone buy health insurance. If the Court goes along with that argument, it opens the door for the government to force us to buy anything it considers “good” for us: non-fat foods, Chevy Volts, non-incandescent light bulbs—oh, wait, I seem to recall that last one being foisted on us already.

One can only hope the Court will actually look at the Constitution this time rather than allow ideology to prevail, but I will be shocked if any of the four liberal justices break from their preconceived position that the text of the Constitution is outdated. It would be nice if they would pay attention to the intent of the Founders, but I fear their insights will be barred from entry:

Fortunately, the lawyers arguing against the bill will be making constitutional arguments. I pray for their success in convincing any swing votes, if they exist.

Most of the country, though, doesn’t know much about the constitutional limitations on the federal government. They just assume the government can do as it wishes. We are constitutionally illiterate, on the whole. But they will soon feel the effects of the law if it isn’t overturned:

At least public opinion polls—not normally the fount of all wisdom—reveal a rising tide against Obamacare. Even Obama has to acknowledge this. When his signature legislation had its second birthday the other day, there was no celebration; Obama himself remained mute about it. So where was he?

Ah, yes, his favorite activity.

And what are the Republicans threatening to offer as the challenger to Obamacare politically? The man who inspired Obamacare to begin with.

I can agree with that sigh.

Obamacare & the Supremes

No, my title today is not the name of a new rock band. Today marks the opening arguments on the constitutionality of Obamacare before the Supreme Court. Good news would be a decision declaring it unconstitutional. Bad news would be a decision upholding it. But the worst news of all is that it comes down to nine people who may determine this for the whole nation, regardless of the ruling.

We have resigned ourselves to the idea that when the Supreme Court speaks, mere mortals must step aside. Yet the Court itself is comprised of mere mortals, not demi-gods. Some of them don’t even have any desire to inquire into the original intent or exact wording of the Constitution. A few have even suggested we look at what other nations do as our guide.

We didn’t used to have this awe over Supreme Court decisions. We used to believe we were a government made up of three co-equal branches, each of which was charged with maintaining constitutionality. When the president takes his oath of office, he says he will protect and defend the Constitution. That document gives Congress authority to remove certain types of cases from the federal purview in the courts. To my knowledge, Congress has never used that authority as leverage against unjust Court rulings.

This is what “check-and-balance” is all about.

Back in 1857, the Supreme Court ruled on the freedom of a black slave named Dred Scott. He was from Missouri, but his master took him into Illinois and Wisconsin, where they lived for a number of years. Both areas banned slavery, so later Scott sued for his freedom, saying he shouldn’t have been held as a slave because of his residence in those places. This was seen by slaveholders as a severe threat to their “right” to their “property.” Seven of the nine justices on the Court at that time were from the South, and all sought to uphold slavery.

The Chief Justice, Roger Taney, decided to use this case to lecture the nation on his concept of the Declaration of Independence, the supremacy of the white race, and the place of blacks in American society. In denying Scott his freedom, he said the Declaration didn’t apply to blacks and that no black person, slave or free, was to be considered a citizen of the United States. Consequently, Scott had no right even to bring the lawsuit. Further, the Congress had no authority to pass any law that limited slavery in any way throughout any state or territory in the Union.

This was a rather breathtaking decision. Did the entire nation bow down before the Supremes and meekly follow the “divine word”? Hardly. The new Republican party spoke out against the ruling, declaring it null and void. It had unconstitutionally denied the rights of all black persons, many of whom were free citizens who had voted in the past. It had said the Congress had no authority to pass laws about slavery when, in fact, it could pass whatever laws it saw fit for territories. The Supreme Court, dominated by a false ideology, had been wrong.

The Supreme Court today can be just as wrong. If it rules Obamacare constitutional, it will have trashed the Constitution. But that doesn’t have to be the final word. In November, we can elect enough members of Congress and a new president dedicated to repealing and replacing that dreadful healthcare bill.

Do we have the intelligence and desire to effect this change? Balance can be restored if we choose wisely. We can once again become a nation of three co-equal branches of government.

In Their Own Secular Image

My regular readers know that I’ve been sharing some thoughts from Santorum’s 2005 book It Takes a Family. One of the chapters, “Religion and Social Capital,” could have been written in the last couple of weeks, what with the Obama administration’s attempt to coerce religious organizations into providing services that violate their principles. For instance, when talking about “mediating institutions,” and how to strengthen them, Santorum says,

The most important answer is to build up what the village elders have spent decades trying to tear down and drive underground—religious institutions and faith-based organizations. The Democrats today have become the party espousing European-style secularism. They have gone to great lengths to create government bureaucracies to displace  the work that religious groups have done ever since the days of the Pilgrims, and to marginalize and privatize faith and its moral demands altogether. Their approach to government regulation and programming has worked in countless ways to sideline people of faith.

Why is this, one might ask? Why do they pull out all stops to neuter the effects of religion, Christianity in particular? I think Santorum is correct when he notes,

The village elders see churches as serious challengers to their “expert” authority and to their profoundly secularist worldview. For liberals, faith-based organizations are exactly the wrong sort of intermediate institution building the wrong sort of social capital. Consequently, even when the village elders try to incorporate social capital into their own agendas, the resulting “image” of American society looks like some bizarre parallel universe: America the secular.

If anyone believes the Obamacare “mandates” will stop with the latest attempts, or will not spread beyond the contraception issue, Santorum warns of what is still to come [and remember, this was written in 2005]:

Why did the village elders try, among many other things, to require Catholic hospitals to counsel for and provide abortions, require orthodox religious universities to fund gay and lesbian groups on campus, require religious organizations to provide spousal benefits to all unmarried couples, and bar even the Boy Scouts from public schools and public funds.?

Why would such “tolerant” people as the village elders try so intolerantly to force their agenda on religious institutions? The answer is clear. Religious institutions stand between them and the individuals they seek to fashion in their own image.

That’s the true danger: what Santorum calls the “village elders,” who can also be called liberals or progressives, want to remake America in their image. The only thing that stands between them and the realization of their dream is genuine Christian faith. That’s why, in their view, it must be marginalized, or even eliminated.

Do we truly understand this threat? If so, why would anyone who claims to be a Christian help them achieve their agenda? We need to recognize the danger. We need renewed minds.

Obama Off the Back Burner

The political focus naturally has been on the Republican race, and as I noted yesterday, the “Santorum Surprise” has become the top story. It also has highlighted the clear Romney weakness in a Republican electorate:

All of this attention to the Republican primaries and caucuses should be putting Barack Obama on the back burner for now, but he has contrived to make himself the news as well, albeit not in a positive way. The octopus-like arms of Obamacare are revealing themselves more than ever now that his administration is trying to force religious organizations to provide birth control methods they disagree with. This has become a vital debate over religious liberty, and rightly so. Obamacare is a threat to genuine religious liberty. Obama is a threat to genuine religious liberty.

He’s attempted to play up the numbers on unemployment now that the “official” word is that it’s down to 8.3%. What he doesn’t want anyone to know is that the labor force itself has dropped precipitously. Fewer people are even looking for work because they’ve given up, and the real problem for those who want to know the truth is that the Obama Labor Department is always going to put things in the best possible light.

Yet the president himself conducts an interview before the Super Bowl in which he declares he deserves a second term.

I thought I would add that cartoon just in case anyone has forgotten that we’re now over $15 trillion in debt. Is that going to be his argument for a second term? I hope so.

Obamacare & the Court

With campaigns and the economic mess dominating the news, Obamacare has taken a back seat lately. It shouldn’t, because it is the harbinger of even greater economic calamity and government interference in the market. It did break through recently, though, with the announcement that the Supreme Court will hear the suit being brought by twenty-six states against the forced nature of the law. What kind of questions should the Court ask? One is obvious:

That kind of coercion is inherently inconsistent with constitutional liberty. How best to illustrate it? Cartoonist Michael Ramirez captures it perfectly:

Liberals are so upset over the possible overturning of this act that they are demanding Clarence Thomas recuse himself from the case. Why? His wife works with a group opposed to this takeover of the nation’s healthcare system. Now if Clarence Thomas himself were involved, I would understand the possibility of recusal, but it’s his wife, not him.

The real conflict of interest is with Elena Kagan, who served as solicitor general in the Obama administration and helped craft the law, or at least come up with ways to defend it. E-mails have surfaced showing her elation over the prospect of the law’s passage. If anyone should withdraw from this case, I think Kagan is the prime candidate, not Thomas. Her participation in the promotion of the law is undeniable, as is her enthusiasm for it:

Will she do the right thing and recuse herself? Don’t bet on it.

The Week in Review–Minus Presidential Politics

So what else has been happening this week besides presidential politics? Well, there were some other elections. In Ohio, Big Labor outspent the opposition and demagogued so successfully that the voters overturned the legislature’s law that attempted to control the collective bargaining power of government unions. They hail it as a victory. That’s because they think short-term and don’t stop to consider that this vote only worsens the financial situation. The result?

Those same Ohio voters, apparently confused by the concept of having a consistent philosophy of government, then rejected the individual mandate of Obamacare. Well, at least common sense prevailed on that one.

Back in Congress, Attorney General Eric Holder had to testify before a congressional committee about the Fast and Furious debacle. He refused to acknowledge that the plan to allow guns to migrate to the drug cartels led to the murder of a Border Patrol agent. He continues to act as if he’s not really responsible for those who operate under his authority. Does anyone see a pattern here?

Why bother?

Also hard at work was the so-called Super Committee trying to come up with a proposal for deficit reduction that both sides can agree on. Democrats walked out at one point. I can see the media spin on this one now:


Let’s not omit the president from this overview. In Europe for a G-20 summit, he and the French president found something to agree on—they both can’t stand Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The only problem is that the microphones picked up their comments; they didn’t know they could be overheard trashing the Israeli leader. Well, you know, he’s just such a pest!

Of course, he might have some legitimate concerns.

Friday’s Overlooked News

The Obama administration has become adept at something other administrations have done, but this administration has taken it from amateur status to expert: waiting until Friday evening, when few are paying attention, to dump all the bad news of the week—bad, that is, for the administration. Under Obama, this has evolved almost into an art form. What am I talking about? Well, here’s what transpired late last Friday:

  1. The long-term care insurance portion of Obamacare was quietly dropped. Forced to face reality about the financial unsustainability of the plan, HHS will now pretend it never existed. All along, we were told this plan would save money; it was an illusion from the start. The illusion finally was shattered.
  2. The Treasury Department reported the second-highest annual deficit in U.S. history. The budget year ended in September. The sad truth? We ran a $1.3 trillion-dollar deficit for the last year. That’s second only to 2009. Let’s see, who was president way back then? Oh, yeah. For the record, that makes three years in a row with a deficit more than $1 trillion.
  3. George Kaiser, a billionaire who was one of Obama’s staunchest contributors and a major Solyndra investor, paid practically zero taxes over the last decade. Now, tell me again about those evil Republican who make too much money and don’t pay enough taxes? Obama may talk class warfare for political gain, but he relies heavily on millionaires and billionaires like Kaiser and Warren Buffet to raise money for him personally. And all that anti-Wall Street talk going around through the Occupy “movement”? Are those protesters really aware of how dependent on Wall Street the Democrat party is, and how avidly Wall Streeters have contributed to the Democrat coffers?
  4. More on Solyndra. The House Oversight Committee seeking more information on the foolish loan to the bankrupt solar power company is being stonewalled by the White House. No information that can be gathered from the president’s e-mail will be sent to Congress. While I understand the separation of powers argument, Congress does have oversight responsibility for how money from that ill-advised stimulus bill was spent.

Some of this is politics as usual, but this administration said it would be the most transparent, most ethical administration in American history. When you try your best to hide bad news and refuse to cooperate with a legitimate congressional investigation, that doesn’t pass the laugh test.

And I haven’t even mentioned the continuing saga of Fast and Furious. I think I’ll say more about that one tomorrow.