I'm still somewhat puzzled and bothered by President Obama's comments on the Supreme Court's role in determining ObamaCare's constitutionality.
Among other things, the President said this, "I am confident that the Supreme Court will not take what would be an unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress."
Specifically, it makes me wonder how ignorant our President believes We the People really are about our U. S. Constitution and its meaning. It also makes me wonder how powerful our President and other elected officials believe themselves to be.
Does he actually believe he can intimidate or otherwise persuade the Court into agreeing with his point of view? Or is he just so worried about the outcome of the case that he acted so irresponsibly in commenting thereon?
Whatever his reasoning, it was a terrible thing for our duly elected President to do. Hereinbelow we'll explain why.
But first, let's briefly review the fundamental underpinnings of our Constitution and its relevance to our self governing society of free individuals.
The Constitution's Preamble begins with the famous three words "We the People" and ends with the words "establish this Constitution for the United States of America."
In other words, We the People established the Constitution. Accordingly, it was the people that gave the government any powers it may possess. The government's powers started at zero, and the people's powers began at 100%.
In fact, these very three words--We the People--replaced tellingly different words of the prior Articles of Confederation which began with "We the under signed Delegates of the States."
Some specific and enumerated powers were granted by We the People to the national government in the newly adopted Constitution. As for the rest, let's quote the 10th Amendment:
"The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States, respectively, or to the people."
Therefore, all power originates with the people, and the national government is limited in its actions to only those delegated powers granted to them.
The first three articles of the Constitution deal with the legislative, executive and judicial branches of government and set forth the powers granted to them by the People.
The clear and unambiguous intention of our Founding Fathers in establishing the Constitution was to (1) form a limited federal system of government, (2) establish a representative form of government and (3) separate and check the powers of the various branches of the government.
The ObamaCare Case
Now let's focus on the ObamaCare case and only one of several fundamental questions of the law's constitutionality. In granting specific powers to the Congress, one such enumerated power is the power to regulate commerce among the several States. That's the basis for ObamaCare.
The President and Congress chose not to base the law on the taxing power of Congress, probably due to its unpopularity with We the People. Of course, they didn't expect its constitutionality to be challenged by 26 individual states either, and perhaps that was their critical error. We'll see when the Supreme Court rules.
Regarding what is commonly referred to as the individual mandate within the unbelievably lengthy 2700 page law, the constitutional question is whether the power to force individuals to purchase health insurance under ObamaCare is within the powers granted to Congress by We the People.
That's for the Court to decide, since the President and Democratic Congressional leaders obviously believed it to be within their powers. Otherwise they wouldn't have passed the legislation as they did.
26 states, however, believe otherwise and hence the Supreme Court will decide the matter. That's the Court's role, and it's been that way since the Constitution was adopted.
Thus, that's where the President's comments get a little scary. He knows that The Supremacy Clause, Article VI, Clause 2, says this: "This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof . . . shall be the supreme Law of the Land . . . ."
Congress is required to pass only laws which are compliant with the Constitution. And where disputes arise, it's been established for more than 200 years that the Supreme Court is tasked with interpreting the Constitution. In short, the Court decides whether laws passed, with respect to the provisions of our Constitution, are "in Pursuance thereof."
Separation of Powers
Congress is made up of Americans. So is the executive branch, including the President. As is the Supreme Court. Their various powers are limited to those granted by We the People in the Constitution. The Court doesn't make or enforce the laws. It interprets them and makes sure that they comply with the Constitution. Congress makes laws but doesn't serve as the ultimate interpreter thereof. That's the role of the Court.
And the President neither makes nor interprets the laws. He enforces them and only those that the Court deems constitutional.
The powers of Congress are limited. If such were not the case, we would have no limited government. And if the Supreme Court were not the appropriate body to interpret whether the power assumed by the Congress is among those granted by the Constitution, then who would peaceably be able to limit what the Congress and a supportive President decided to do, even if beyond their constitutional authority? Nobody.
And that would be the end of limited government and separation of powers as well. Perhaps representative government, too.
Revolution would be the only effective remedy for We the People in that case. Been there, done that, so the Founding Fathers drafted and framed the U. S. Constitution accordingly.
We the People Have Power
Here's the bottom line. All power originates with, and flows from, the people. All members of government, including the branches thereof, work for We the People within the limits of the Constitution.
President Obama knows all this. So should we all.
However, he evidently believes that many of We the People are essentially ignorant about the Constitution and its meaning. Unfortunately, he may be right about that.
Even if we are, however, that doesn't mean we have to stay uninformed and uninvolved. The Founding Fathers gave us a great self governing process in the form of our Constitution. It's up to us to keep it that way.
It's a federal system of government which consists of free individuals acting through states and their national government as well.
And that federal system further separates the powers of government by creating three branches: (1) the most powerful legislative (i.e., power of the purse and to make laws, tax and regulate interstate commerce); (2) executive (i.e., power of the sword, to enforce laws and conduct wars as Commander-in-Chief); and (3) the least powerful judicial (i.e., power to interpret the Constitution and make sure that its provisions are followed under laws enacted by Congress.
The Larger meaning
We the People elect Congress and the President as our representatives. They work for us.
The nine Supreme Court Justices are nominated by the President and, with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, are appointed for life, thus insuring their independence. They work for us, too.
The Supreme Court assures that the Constitution is followed when laws are passed. The Court has no enforcement powers. That power lies with the executive branch. But when the Court strikes down a law, that law is then null and void.
We the People have formed a federalist system of limited government, representative government and provided for the separation of powers within that government. It's all so simple. So profoundly simple.
What's really scary is when our President assumes and acts on the belief that We the People don't understand what the Constitution means.
In the ObamaCare case, the real important issue is whether there still exists a limited form of government.
To make sure we do retain limited government, we need our Supreme Court "representatives" to be vigilant and diligent in making certain that the Congress always stays within its constitutional authority.
Without the Court possessing both the power and the willingness to act on that power with respect to the other branches of government, our longstanding form of limited and representative government will someday be but a memory.
If that should ever come to pass, our Constitution will have lost its meaning.
Let's see to it that that never happens by keeping in clear view what the Founding Fathers gave to us.