Some of us found the oral arguments before the Supreme Court last week on Obamacare a cause for guarded hope. The questions asked indicate that it’s possible that a slim majority of the justices will find this act, which drastically alters our relationship with the government, unconstitutional.
Steven Pearlstein, business columnist for the Washington Post, was not pleased, however, and found last week’s oral arguments “political posturing, Jesuitical hair-splitting and absurd hypotheticals.” Pearlstein led his column with a joke (I guess) that has me scratching my head:
If the law is an ass, as Mr. Bumble declares in “Oliver Twist,” then constitutional law must surely be the entire wagon train.
All of this is interesting as a way of taking the temperature of the MSM. But even more interesting is an increasingly important, not entirely aboveboard debate tactic that the left has adopted. I refer to the ruse of portraying the positions of the left as being really more conservative than conservatives.
In this instance, Pearlstein opined that the presentation in favor of the Affordable Care Act before the Supreme Court might have benefited from the involvement of Corporate America (his caps). Pearlstein argues that business has complained for 20 years about rising cost of health insurance and “some even talked” about moving away from employer-based insurance.
But there would have been a problem with getting Corporate America involved: most of Corporate America loathes and fears Obamacare, while the pro-Obamacare sliver, big pharma, made so many deals with the Obama administration that its arguments could not be taken seriously.
Just FYI: Columnist Michael Barone is not so dismissive of the oral arguments last week—far from finding the questions Jesuitical hair-splitting, Barone writes that important questions were raised about the limits of what the government can require us to do.
For 70 years, since the court in 1942 said the government could limit the amount of wheat farmer Roscoe Filburn could grow on his own land to feed his own animals, it has been generally assumed that the federal government's power to regulate the economy had no limits.
That assumption survived in liberal precincts even though the court in 1995 overturned a law banning guns in schools and in 2000 ruled unconstitutional parts of the Violence Against Women Act.
But the arguments, developed by Georgetown Law professor Randy Barnett and others, that it is beyond the powers conferred by the Constitution for Congress to mandate the purchase of a commercial product — health insurance in Obamacare — were certainly taken seriously by a majority of Supreme Court justices last week.
And the government's lawyers were unable to answer the questions of both liberal and conservative justices: If Congress can do this, what can't it do?
That question is likely to linger even if the court upholds Obamcare.
If you are a supporter of the Affordable Care Act, however, you probably have little patience with such absurd hypotheticals.