City Paper: ObamaCare Means Unlimited Government
I was almost certain Obamacare was going to be overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court, especially given that President Barack Obama’s legal team did such a poor job defending it during the hearings. I had even planned on writing a column about how finally, for the first time in a long time, the court was acknowledging that we actually have a Constitution that prevents the federal government from doing things it’s not supposed to do. Forcing Americans to purchase healthcare is undoubtedly one of those things.
Or as dissenting Justice Anthony Kennedy said: “The values that should have determined our course today are caution, minimalism, and the understanding that the federal government is one of limited powers … But the court’s ruling undermines those values at every turn. In the name of restraint, it overreaches. In the name of constitutional avoidance, it creates new constitutional questions. In the name of cooperative federalism, it undermines state sovereignty.”
Siding with the three other dissenting justices — conservatives Antonin Scalia, Samuel Alito, and Clarence Thomas — Kennedy added, “In our view, the act before us is invalid in its entirety.”
And it is invalid. According to the Constitution, the only things the federal government is allowed to do are found in Article 1, Section 8. If it is not in Article 1, Section 8, the federal government cannot do it.
That said, most of what the federal government does today cannot be found in Article 1, Section 8, which means our national government has been wholly lawless for a very long time. But even Kennedy, not exactly a conservative, recognized that the individual mandate, the heart of Obamacare, took this lawlessness to another level, one that could set a dangerous new precedent concerning what kind of power the federal government can wield.
Many Americans laugh at silly New Yorkers who try to regulate the size of sodas and some of the other similar nanny-state nonsense that has characterized that town. But Mayor Michael Bloomberg insists that it is his job to dictate the health of NYC citizens. With the Supreme Court ruling, our federal government has similarly mandated what it has determined to be good for American citizens. And indeed, it is good for Americans to have health insurance, just as it is better for New Yorkers not to drink lots of sugary soda. The point is not what’s “good” but who has the right to determine what’s “good,” and do they have the right to enforce it by law. The question is: In what ways should government be limited?