Our post dated October 1, 2011 was titled "ObamaCare ... What Impact Will Its Constitutionality Have On 2012 Elections?" Please refer to it for an overall analysis of the various issues before the Court and their likely decision --- which would be upholding the law's various provisions.
More importantly, the 2011 post sets forth the reasons for why the likely decision would be that the Affordable Care Act is constitutional. The post also discusses the likely political consequences for the 2012 election as well. And the role of We the People, of course.
Now that all this has come to pass largely as expected, it's time to look forward. There's lots of good news in the decision for fans of limited government, as I am.
What the Court did today was in essence refuse to provide unlimited powers to Congress under the commerce clause. This is pretty much the first time the power of Congress has been limited since New Deal legislation was passed in the 1930s. That's a huge positive for the idea of limited government, and that's a great thing in my view.
The Court also had meaningful things to say about the individual mandate specifically. It distinguished between activities and non-activities within the meaning of the commerce clause, saying that Congress can't require people to engage in an activity like buying insurance, eating broccoli or otherwise NOT doing something. It can only regulate activities --- not non-activities as specified by the ObamaCare legislation.
The personal mandate is in fact a tax, according to the Court, and there is no doubt about the authority of Congress to tax the American people. Even though the President and the Democratically controlled Congress stressed the fact that it wasn't a tax when passing the legislation initially, it is what it is, in other words. A tax by any other name is still a tax.
Finally, individual states won, too. They can opt out of Medicaid expansion without losing funds for existing Medicaid programs. This is a victory for states' rights and the inability of the national government to do anything it chooses to do.
All in all, the constitutional issues pretty much all came down on the side of limited government. That's more than good enough for me.
Now it's up to We the People and our elected officials to take the necessary steps to have an effective and genuinely free choice affordable health care system in America.
The debates will be long and hard, and in the end the people will decide. As we should.
For an overview, please see Summary of Supreme Court health care decision.
And for a Q & A, please see What the Supreme Court's Health-Law Ruling Means for Consumers.
We'll comment further as circumstances warrant. For now, however, there really isn't much to add to what we said in our October, 2011 post referenced above.
Long live our federalist system of government and its separation of powers.
The Court didn't say it endorsed or approved of the legislation but merely that Congress acted within its powers when passing it.
Now the ball is back in the hands of We the People.