The Court and Congress Have Spoken

Two very important decisions were made in Washington, D.C. today, by two different branches of the government.  One of them was overshadowed by the other, but that doesn’t make the other any less serious.  The Supreme Court handed down a 5-4 decision in favor of the Affordable Care Act.  I can’t say that I completely understand how they came to their decision, but I’m pretty sure that there will be plenty of pundits and experts who will make their own attempts at explaining it to us – for days.  The Justices interpreted the Commerce Clause and the powers of Congress to impose taxes in a way that has probably set new precedent and will provide law scholar and  students with hours of debate.

The individual mandate was declared unconstitutional under the Commerce Clause, but Congress may tax – penalize, if you may – those Americans who do not purchase their own health insurance.   I’m baffled by that reasoning but, then again, it wouldn’t be the first time that the Court’s logic has been more than a little confusing and convoluted.  I will include one statement made by Chief Justice Roberts found in the decision.

“The Affordable Care Act’s requirement that certain in­dividuals pay a financial penalty for not obtaining health insurance may reasonably be characterized as a tax. Be­cause the Constitution permits such a tax, it is not our role to forbid it, or to pass upon its wisdom or fairness.”

That’s absolutely right.  It is not the job of the Court to decide on wisdom or fairness.  That’s the role of the two other branches.  I hope that they get it right.

The other decision today came from Capitol Hill, where Congress voted to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt.   That’s not a minor issue, but the coverage of it by those who provide us with the 24 hour news cycle were a little tied up, trying to grab the scoop at the Supreme Court – badly, too, as they tripped up on a few details in their own little “Dewey Defeats Truman” moments.

The vote in Congress was with regard to the infamous “Fast and Furious” gun-walking debacle.  The President invoked executive privilege, citing that some of the documents requested were a matter of National security.  That may be.  It may also be that we will never know.  Presidents have invoked privilege in the past, so this is nothing new.  The problem that it causes is in how it looks to the rest of America.  Ronald Reagan exerted his rights by refusing to hand over his personal diaries with regard to Iran-Contra.  Richard Nixon used the privilege during the Watergate scandal.  Bill Clinton negotiated a form of executive privilege with Kenneth Starr relative to the Monica Lewinsky problem. George W. Bush exercised the privilege regarding investigations of Janet Reno, the FBI and Karl Rove.

Since Nixon, Presidents have used the privilege over 25 times.  The outcomes of some these investigations have been disappointing to the Country, and have resulted in criminal charges, as well as impeachment proceedings.  I don’t know how this one will end.  I just hope that our nation doesn’t have to crawl back from one more scandal.  I don’t think we could take another one.


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23 Responses to The Court and Congress Have Spoken

  1. Kaereste says:

    I don’t think anyone foresaw that the Supreme Court would reach out to the “tax” argument to uphold ACA. Congress purposely avoided the tax language. I expected the court to tell Congress to rewrite the law as a tax.
    We’re in for a very messy and depressing election.

    • It’s not just the tax/penalty that will be imposed on those who opt out of purchasing health insurance. There will also have to be increases in taxes to provide revenue for the expansion of Medicaid which will cover those whose incomes are 133% of the poverty level based on adjusted gross income.

  2. Diva says:

    I guess I will be spending the weekend reading the PDF of this ACT…!!!
    Once again ,,forced placement….
    like being FORCED to have flood insurance even though you have proof that you do not live in a flood plain or even close to the 100 yr old flood plain…. but because myZIP CODE says so it must be true…..

  3. Donna says:

    I’ve been worried about the Medicare aspect of it. There seems to be a big trend on privitizing it, even though there is enough money to last another 75 years.

    • Donna says:

      I meant to add Social Security.

      • We only whisper the words “Social Security” at the Farm. After working another job for 10 years past his police retirement, my husband found that his benefits would actually be about 40% of what we had been led to believe they would be. The SS Administration explained that his pension was a “windfall offset” and that he simply made too much money. We don’t know who received the other 60% or how they qualified for it. Minus Medicare payments and prescription coverage, and we have enough left from SS to buy hay.

        • FLG (Mr. Tigre's Butler) says:

          Not to mention the “doughnut hole” for prescription coverage. I heard that phrase a lot from my parents,

  4. Donna says:

    I’m not very good at voicing my opinion, so I just share and hope the information is useful.

  5. FLG (Mr. Tigre's Butler) says:

    ” I just hope that our nation doesn’t have to crawl back from one more scandal. I don’t think we could take another one.” I totally agree. During my lifetime, I don’t recall another era when the public seems more fed up with what is going on at the Federal, State and even local levels. I was living during the ’60’s….the civil rights movement (I lived in the “deep” South for some of that) The Vietnam War and the Kent State Massacre……. those pale in comparison to the vibe I’m getting from John and Mary Doe Public these days. I fear we are uncomfortably close to a “straw that breaks the camel’s back” moment in time.

    • “I fear we are uncomfortably close to a “straw that breaks the camel’s back” moment in time.”
      The state of the economy, unemployment, the immigration debate and an unapologetically biased reporting of the news have been some very polarizing influences. Americans are afraid, and we neither trust nor respect our government – something which the government itself is, in large part, responsible for. When we’re afraid, we become angry – about everything. So, yes, it is beginning to feel like we are coming very close to reaching the boiling over point.
      I’m still waiting for the generations behind us to take up the banners and causes the way we did in the ’60s and ’70s. They’re the ones who have much more at stake in the future.

  6. Just in case anyone still believes that our elected leaders have a lick of common sense, here is my quote of the week regarding the ACA, as delivered by Senator Rand Paul:

    “Just because a couple people on the Supreme Court declare something to be ‘constitutional’ does not make it so. The whole thing remains unconstitutional.”

    So there.

  7. Lisa Renee says:

    Good Morning Empress, I had fingers crossed that you would blog about this. I delayed replying because I can not express myself properly. I read, listened to all legal analysis & everyone & their mothers opinion. Spoke with DD about it & it helped a bit. She has a better grasp of the legalese but is drowning in Torts (sp?) right now & doesn’t have the head to “dumb it down” (my words,not hers) for me. So as I sit here this morning I am still confused. The last time I was this confused I was tripping my balls off in Central Park lol. Wonder how long till I come down & grasp WTF is happening. Thanks for all your posts, Lisa 🙂

    • Lisa, We’re all tripping in Central Park right along with you. I don’t think we’re going to know how this will play out until all of the pieces come into effect over the next 4 – 5 years. BTW, your mention of Tort law just gave me a flashback to law school – let your 1L know that I’m rooting for her. 🙂

      • Lisa Renee says:

        Empress, thanks so much, I will let her know. School hasn’t started yet but she is going to MI in July to do a week long class for scholarship dollars & the books arrived a few weeks ago. She has to hit the ground running & for the first time in her life she is doubting her ability to succeed in school. All my energy right now is being her cheerIeader, validating her concerns & keeping her grounded in reality. I saw you were following her on twitter & I started following you & now you are following me. It sounds like health reform will be a long strange trip. I am glad we can all be confused together. Lisa 🙂

  8. FLG (Mr. Tigre's Butler) says:

    Anyone remember Hank Johnson of Georgia? He was the Congressman who stated at a committee meeting. “My fear is that the whole island (Guam) will become so overly populated that it will tip over and capsize”. Is it little wonder that we distrust and don’t respect our elected officials to represent our best interests? He is an extreme example, but an example none-the-less. I don’t think any of the parties (or their sub-groups) currently represent my ideas or ideals. In business, cutting out the middle man is often viewed as a smart and cost saving maneuver, but when applied to healthcare, it’s viewed as socialism. My views on what would be proper policy have been derived from many talks with friends and acquaintances from Canada, the UK, and Australia. I’ve also had long discussions with family members who have already left the US and moved to Denmark, Germany, Austria, Lichtenstein, Belgium, Jordan, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Brazil and the Netherlands. I have had lots of dealings with our current system, most of which were quite pleasant on the medical side (I’ve had very good treatment) and very unpleasant on getting payments made to my providers. With a single payer system, there would still be a role for the private insurance companies, but not nearly as large a role as they would like. JMHO. I fully agree that change will happen when the generation after us becomes involved, as we did in the 60’s and 70’s. It may be closer than we think. Who would have thought Canada would be undergoing Maple Spring?

  9. FLG (Mr. Tigre's Butler) says:

    Where to go if you want to escape the individual mandate:
    In other words, the USA is the only place of the OECD countries ( that doesn’t have some form of universal healthcare. They generally operate under a not-for-profit basis for basic healthcare. There are private options for additional care in many countries if one can afford and wishes to avail themselves of it. My UK friends refer to it as “going private”.

  10. Way off topic, but I have an important announcement.
    Foie gras will be banned in California beginning Sunday, July 1st. RHoOC, Alexis Bellino will be offering a prayer of thanks on behalf of all ducks and geese right after she spits her mouthful of the delicacy (or delicatessen) into her napkin.

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