In what can only be described as a surprising outcome, Chief Justice John Roberts sided with the four liberal Supreme Court judges to uphold the Affordable Care Act and its key provision of the individual mandate. Meanwhile, Justice Anthony Kennedy who many anticipated would be the swing vote to uphold, sided with the other conservative justices, claiming that the entire health care law was unconstitutional.
This is indisputably an enormous victory for President Obama, Congressional Democrats and most of all, the American People. America is now finally catching up with the rest of the developed world in assuring health care for almost all of its citizens and affirming that human beings are entitled to receive medical attention as citizens of a civilized society. Also, the mandate affirms personal responsibility, something that Republicans love giving lip service to but in this health care debate, attacked vehemently. That is, those who have been causing medical costs to rise because they were uninsured, whether due to insurance companies refusing to cover them, the inability to pay enormous premiums or simply the choice not to do so by younger Americans, will soon no longer have to be bankrupted by medical costs or have them covered by those who do pay insurance.
There was one provision which was carved off by the SCOTUS, the government’s ability to withhold all Medicare funding to states that don’t expand it. Other than that, the ACA has been fully upheld. Also, Roberts stated that he did not see the mandate as valid due to the Commerce Clause, the federal government’s right to manage interstate commerce. Instead, Roberts declared that he views the mandate’s fines as a tax which the federal government is entitled to apply. The four liberal justices affirmed that they see the ACA covered under the Commerce Clause, that unlike the other 5 justices’ claims that it’s forcing Americans to buy something, that all Americans are already part of the health care industry because as human beings, they will require medical care at one time or another.
This is an historic day for the nation. Though many people still suffer from Republican and Right Wing propaganda/brainwashing that the ACA is some socialist government takeover of healthcare and that it is unAmerican for the government to force people to pay for something vital to their survival (er…Social Security and Medicare anyone?), these lies will begin to fade and Americans will take for granted that they have fair access to health care and insurance companies can no longer choose who gets to live or die.
One thing to consider is how upset citizens of the conservative states should be. In the middle of a difficult economy, the Republicans in control spent millions of dollars of their state’s taxpayer money, fighting the constitutionality of the ACA. How many salaries of teachers, police and firefighters would that money have paid for, how many of these folks wouldn’t have been laid off if they hadn’t squandered taxpayer money just to benefit the 1% and themselves politically.
Of course now there will be ramped up rhetoric by the Right about electing Republicans to control Congress and the White House so they can pass legislation to wipe out the ACA. Fat chance. Not only is President Obama more likely to be re-elected after this victory, even with Republican control of both houses of Congress and the Presidency, all that would be needed is one Democrat in the Senate to filibuster such a bill and it can’t happen. And does anyone doubt that after 4 years of the Republicans filibustering every Democratic bill, there wouldn’t be one Democratic Senator to filibuster the destruction of the ACA?
And it sure doesn’t help the Republicans to have the argument of “It’s a violation of the Constitution!” taken out of their hands. Now, it’s just about whining that they lost on this twice and that they should have a do-over.
One specific that I would hope the Obama Administration would stress strongly and repeatedly is that the individual mandate is projected only to affect 6% of the American population, 94% of Americans won’t be impacted by it. That eviscerates the Republican argument.
Will railing against the ACA be a winning issue for the GOP this November? I doubt it. America values winners and shuns losers. The GOP are clearly losers on this and will now look like bad losers. The public has been battered over this for three years and I think that they’re ready to move on. And does anyone think that Mitt Romney, architect of Romneycare which is centered around an individual mandate, is in any position to attack it? Romney wants to talk solely about the economy, he surely doesn’t want everyone thinking on a daily basis about what a hypocrite he is on health care, that it was fine for him and state government to enforce a mandate but it is an outrage for the federal government to do such a thing.
It would be very entertaining and self-destructive for the GOP to make this a central issue, taking them off message about the economy, against the American people having health care and highlighting Romney’s weakness as a principled human being. On that note, Rand Paul released a statement that sounds like a five-year-old wrote it, saying that just because a couple of people on the Supreme Court said something is constitutional, that doesn’t mean it is, declaring that the ACA remains unconstitutional. So, the Supreme Court’s decision should be regarded as illegitimate and Rand Paul’s personal opinion should be revered as the law of the land? The ignorance and desperation will only make the flailing of the Right more and more ridiculous.
The thinking about Roberts siding with the liberals is that it would have been a stake through the heart of his court and a damning of his position in history if the conservative SCOTUS decided to make Bush president, approved the unlimited buying of elections by the wealthy through Citizens United and then destroyed the only health care bill that has ever passed the Congress and doomed millions of Americans to death and debt. Might there have been some conscience on Roberts part too? Possibly. But as Scalia often demonstrates, SCOTUS members can be very egocentric and focused more on themselves than the people or the Constitution. No question that Roberts cares about his position in history and the public’s rejection of the SCOTUS as a legitimate entity.
And what can one say about all the pundits’ babbling predictions we’ve had to endure for the last couple of weeks? How many of them were right in their very informed blather? As far as I’m aware…none. Thousands of minutes of blah-blah-blah about what is likely to happen and how the future will unfold, they were once again wrong. All of them, all wrong! None of them got it right so we should consider just how much of a waste of our time it is to listen to the pundit class on news channels and how many other constructive things we could have done with our time instead of listening to self-apponted know-it-alls who once again have been proven to be clueless…and of course, never say a word about how wrong they were once again.
So, as far as most reasoned people can see, the ACA is in place and the Republicans have no viable path to get rid of it.
But that’s not going to keep them from throwing tantrums over it all the way to November on onward.