One of the reasons that the congressional debates over Obamacare generated such emotion at town hall meetings was that the people realized that the government was refusing to listen to us.
We said we didn’t want Obamacare; Nancy Pelosi said the bill had to be passed so we could find out what was in it. In other words: We don’t care what you think.
If the Supreme Court were to let Obamacare stand, the government would realize it didn’t have to listen to us. Or, at least, that is what I take away from a provocative article in the Daily Caller by Jim Huffman, a member of the Hoover Institution’s De Nault Task Force on Property Rights, Freedom and Prosperity.
Huff first addresses the issue of the power of the individual states, something that has been increasingly subsumed into the central government for years:
But the merits of the law and the policy consequences of a finding for or against its constitutionality will not (or should not) be the concern of the Supreme Court when it finally takes up one or more of the cases still working their way through the lower courts
The issue will be the constitutional scope of congressional power. Is the federal government one of enumerated, and thereby limited, powers? Or is it a government with powers confined only by the will of the political majority?
The history of expanding federal power since the New Deal, always at the expense of the powers of state and local governments, is evident in the day-to-day lives of every American. There is even surprising public familiarity with the highlights of Supreme Court acquiescence in the ever-greater reach of the Commerce Clause….
From the New Deal to today, the courts have almost always deferred to Congress and thus undermined the concept of enumerated federal powers. As the 11th Circuit majority concluded in Friday’s decision: “The federal government’s assertion of power, under the Commerce Clause, to issue an economic mandate for Americans to purchase insurance from a private company for the entire duration of their lives is unprecedented, lacks cognizable limits, and imperils our federalist structure.”
Or, the court might have said, what remains of our federalist structure. Nearly a century of Commerce Clause jurisprudence has left a federal structure more in name than reality.
Yes, I care about the federalist principle, but that isn’t the only principle in jeopardy:
But there is more at stake than preserving some amount of sovereignty and independence in the states. As the final clause of the 10th Amendment should remind us, some powers are reserved to the people. The fact that a majority of Americans opposed enactment and have consistently favored repeal of Obamacare speaks not to their passion for the sovereignty of state governments. Rather it speaks to the basic American belief in individual freedom. Even when people understand that they themselves may be beneficiaries of all that Obamacare promises, a passion for liberty makes many recoil at the individual mandate.
There is also an excellent piece on the Obamacare in Investor’s Business Daily that points out that nothing in the Constitution gave the federal government the right to take over health care. The piece does have an optimistic tone: “ObamaCare isn’t dead yet, but it is sitting before a death panel of its own.”
We are wisely cautioned not to crack out the bubbly yet. I suppose it’s all going to come down to what Supreme Court Justice Anthony “Swing” Kennedy believes about individual liberty.