A Special July 4th Analysis: Chief Justice John Roberts’ Healthcare Ruling; A Profile In Courage

By: Aaron Joseph. Do we have reason to celebrate our independence and our system of Democratic Government. Yes. This July 4th I would like to personally offer a “shout-out” to former President George W. Bush. If there is no other reason for praising President George W. Bush, then do so now for him having the acumen and insight for selecting a brilliant legal scholar and even wiser man as the United States Supreme Court Chief Justice.
There have only been 17 chief justices of the Supreme Court throughout the United States’ glorious 236-year history. The position once taken is a lifetime appointment. Think of the responsibility incumbent upon the decision of just who should occupy that high office. Kudos to President GW Bush.
Chief Justice John Roberts ruled last week that the new, controversial healthcare law signed into law by President Obama, was constitutional. This was one of the most brilliant High Court rulings of all time. This was also a shock for all conservatives and for Republicans and many Democrats alike. In my opinion – this was a brilliant ruling. A ruling that I believe will not only define Chief Justice Roberts’ legacy, but also perhaps even redefine the Supreme Court and its responsibilities as a judicial oversight, which maintains the integrity of our Federal Government.
Here is why.
Of challenge to the healthcare law was whether the government has the constitutional power to force, or coerce citizens to buy healthcare insurance.
The Obama administration has argued since the law’s inception, that no one is forced by the law to own healthcare insurance, but rather, anyone who does not buy healthcare insurance would be penalized. Part of that liberal argument was congress has the authority to “penalize” citizens who do not cooperate with a law’s implementation. The conservatives argued, this was an overreach of federal power, and government cannot force anyone to own anything, nor penalize those who refuse to buy something. This is known as the healthcare law’s “commerce clause.”
The Supreme Court is comprised of nine judges. They are what pundits agree are four liberal judges, and four moderate-conservative judges, and then Chief Justice Roberts. Most assume, or have assumed Chief Justice John Roberts to be aligned with the court’s conservative wing. Yet Roberts sided with the Liberals in the healthcare ruling, granting the liberal wing of the court a bare majority. This upheld the healthcare law.
The shock of Chief Justice Roberts siding with the liberal wing of the court concerning the healthcare law was for many very deep. As not only did Chief Justice Roberts rule in favor of the ultra-liberal healthcare law, but also he even redefined a core point that helped it stand as law. The tax.
Chief Justice Roberts wrote that the “commerce clause” of the law was not central to the law’s integrity, as congress truly is not forcing Americans to purchase healthcare. Chief Justice Roberts wrote that Congress has the authority to impose any tax on Americans, and therefore, this “penalty” against Americans who do not purchase healthcare insurance is nothing more than a tax. Chief Justice Roberts also added for good measure that it was not his, nor the courts job to weigh the wisdom or appropriateness of any taxes, and that it is best left to the elected officials, and hence the voting public.
John Roberts, in his position as Chief Justice has the authority to write the brief, or speak on behalf of the court regarding the ruling in whichever side he takes on any case. If he is in the majority, he explains the court’s decision for the majority- if he so chooses. If in any other case he would rule with the minority, he may if he wishes, write the dissent of the minority; the disagreement to the majority. Of course, the law is not like the dissent, yet it makes for good authoritative and penetrating legal study.
I did not read the dissent, nor do I plan to do so. I am simply rejoicing at the shear brilliance of Chief Justice Roberts aligning himself with the liberal wing, and for the position, he took in redefining the healthcare law.
Perhaps you do not remember the drama that unfolded during President Obama’s healthcare speech to a Joint Session of Congress in September 2009. South Carolina, Republican Congressman, Joe Wilson yelled out “YOU LIE!” interrupting President Obama’s speech. That had something to do with immigrants being covered by President Obama’s proposed healthcare law.
Chief Justice Roberts ruling perhaps, has completely vindicated Joe Wilson’s understanding of what President Obama had been saying; although on a different level completely. You see, every single Democrat from the President on down, is on record saying that the new healthcare law will never ever impose any new taxes whatsoever.
Chief Justice Roberts, by virtue of his position was able to summarize for the court majority why the new healthcare law is constitutional- because it is a tax. You see, Chief Justice Roberts ruled that the healthcare law stands on the foundation of a tax. Brilliant!
The White House was ever quick last week to gleefully announce their appreciation of the Supreme Court’s decision, as President Obama himself so proudly announced: “The highest court in the land has spoken.” – Not to mention that just 24 hours later the White House spokesperson was already saying, “We [the White House] do not see this as a tax, but rather as a penalty.” The magnitude of the court’s ruling had taken 24 hours to sink in.
Chief Justice Roberts sidestepped the difficult position he would have set himself up to be in had he ruled against the healthcare law as it stood before he redefined it as a tax.
He would have been painted as an “activist judge” in an election year. He would have been called out for seemingly supplying the conservative Republicans with the ammunition they want and so desperately need against President Obama. The Democrats would have been couching their entire various defying political chorus around the fact that the courts are trying to influence the upcoming election. It would have given President Obama much empty albeit fiery rhetoric during his reelection campaign to go on the offensive of how the courts are wrong, or how he will fix the law to make it constitutional.
This at the very least may have very well tainted the very influence a Chief Justice requires in his position and perhaps the very institution of the Supreme Court as well. It would have set up the executive branch and the judicial branch of government in an ugly fight. It surely would have fired up the Democratic base. The brilliance and courage of our Chief Justice avoided that.
Now President Obama is stuck with the law as it is, a completely unpopular law. Now the law is comprehended as a huge tax burden, further alienating even those who may have had some mediocre faith in it. This, going into an election year keeps President Obama on the defensive of what he cannot now proclaim as his sole four-year achievement. Brilliant! Mitt Romney raked in nearly five million dollars in the hours after the court’s decision was announced. Obama did not. Not this time.
Of historic note is, during the 1930’s and the Great Depression, when President Roosevelt was trying to implement all his many significant and additions to the powers of the Federal Government in what became known as the “New Deal”, the Supreme Court threatened to overturn most, if not all of his new policy as “unconstitutional.” In reply, Democrat President Roosevelt and the Democratic controlled congress threatened to add an additional six justices to the Supreme Court, to be able to maintain a majority of liberal justices who would uphold his New Deal Policy. The Supreme Court caved in at the time. Unfortunately!
Chief Justice Roberts is a student of history. He graduated Harvard University with an A.B. Summa cum laude in history in just three years- this of course before his arrival at law school. The fact that the United States has the utmost liberal Democrat President in office in history is not lost on Chief Justice Roberts. Nor is the events that unfolded during the New Deal 1930’s.
By upholding the hallmark and defining bulk of work that President Obama achieved during his term in office, Chief Justice Roberts publicly sided with the man, and allows for Chief Justice Roberts to remain in the shadows during the election season.. He also left the future of the healthcare law to be decided by the voters on Election Day. Brilliant! Chief Justice Roberts has set up an imposing election referendum, not just on the healthcare law, but on the judgment of the president who created it. This- while he and the court remain completely unscathed.
True, at the moment Chief Justice Roberts is wide opened to criticism. Yet he has chosen to forgo that for the best interests of the country, and an ultimate victory in the polls come November.
Artfully galvanizing the Republican base through the healthcare ruling, Chief Justice Roberts hallowed the purpose of the Supreme Court in balancing the Federal Government in a most tactful way. Now in a catch-twenty, the Democrats must praise the court’s decision in granting credence to their past four years of work, all the while acknowledging that yes, the “highest court in the land has spoken.” They at the same time must contend with the fact that yes, they all lied, and yes, the healthcare law is a huge massive tax burden that the pundits and critics, liberals and conservatives alike, have yet to figure out.
That is, this shock of Chief Justice Roberts’ ruling that the healthcare law is constitutional because it is a tax, caught everyone off-guard, and has truly redefined, not just the law itself, but the past four years of politics, and the election to come.
Yes the Democrats lied. Chief Justice Roberts pointed it out, and perhaps even, saved the nation of further misery.
Kudos to President GW Bush, and the courage on Chief Justice Roberts.

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  1. It is not the “commerce clause” of the health care law, rather the “commerce clause” of the constitution. As such Mr. Roberts has stepped all over the document that made us the greatest country, that is not a reason to be proud of our highest court.

  2. One consequence of ruling that the commerce clause does not apply to inactivity is that the federal government cannot criminalize misprision of felony.

    Congress cannot make a law forcing someone to report child abuse across state lines. Congress cannot criminalize not reporting a terrorist plot across state lines. Congress cannot criminalize any omission as long as it does not pertain to its war power or taxing power.

    Secondly, Congress lost much of its plenary jurisdiction under its spending power in this ruling. It can no longer discontinue social security, medicare, or any other program that the states have become reliant upon. If Congress retains the power to discontinue programs, which I am sure the Court would hold that they do, then how can Congress be restrained from withholding funds next year under conditions that it sets for continuation of the funding?

  3. No on asked him for his brilliance if Obama wanted it to be enforced via commerce clause So brilliant he calls it a tax and the republicans have what to complain and rant etc. about! Great, He showed them!! but we now are stuck with obamacare!!

  4. The govt is not really forcing anyone to buy anything, just penalizing you if you dont? talk about playing with words.

    So the government can say ‘no one has to buy a ford, but if you don’t, we will fine you $10,000″

    what would be the definition of the govt forcing you to do something? threatening physical harm if you dont? sending you to prison if you dont? holding a gun to your head?

  5. with all due respect, the writer of this,article displays a complete lack of understanding of the basics of the constitution. The commerce clause is not a part of the health care law! It is one of the enumerated powers that our constitution gives the congress. The writers of the health care law claimed that the constitutions commerce clause empowered tge congress to regulate health care even if that meant forcing people to purchase a product. A majority of the court – including the ‘brilliant’ Roberts- found that congress has no such power. Roberts then went and invented another ratinale, one that congress never claimed to be relying on, namely the taxing power. Never mind that congress and the president stated numerous times that that was not their intention. Never mind that this’tax’ does not fit any of the descriptions of the various taxes that the constitution allows congress to impose.

  6. you are right but the court is supposed to be above politics and in this case chief justice roberts surely had an ulterior motive be it political or for the integrity of the court but its sad that even the supreme court became political and now there are no limits to what the government can do just redefine it as a tax and all is good

  7. Stop this rubbish Roberts is a traitor, a man with zero back bone. stop making whats obvious and twisting it to the opposite of what it really is, the fact is Roberts gave swooping new powers to the federal gov. allowing them to tax people for not doing something, end of story. they never had such powers and now they do. and to say he had such foresight he did it for the good of the country’s future is wrong and currupt thats not his job his job is to interpret the Constitution anything else is judicial activism, the very thing we always despised the liberals on the court for doing. Roberts is TRAITOR!

  8. roberts ruling makes no sense he first ruled that the court could rule on it because its NOT A TAX but rather a penalty and then in the same ruling he said its a tax rewriting the bill in his own words this is not what congress passed its a new bill destroying america

  9. you are absolutely right to praise Bush for appointing Chief Justice Roberts. Probably the only thing in GWB’s 8yr tenure to actually be proud of. Roberts is a moderate conservative who, regardless of his political affiliation, voted according to our constitution. Call him what he is, a judge. The last I checked, a supreme court justice is to uphold this country’s constitutional rights not impose his personal political beliefs. So, yes, kudos to Chief Roberts for a job well done. Good looking out Mr Bush! Oh one more thing; doesn’t the government force me to pay SS tax or can i refuse to pay? Also, yeah, I own a vehicle, but why am I obligated to purchase insur. for it?

  10. Not worth the time refuting this drivel… There are more holes in this analysis than there are pages of the boondogle obamacare… Which btw is currently the law of the land – ponder that for a minute.

    Would attempt to explain why this is nonsensical but its very clear the author is absolutely convinced of his own brilliance in explaining “Roberts’ brilliance”.

  11. instead of explaining yourself going on and on why hes so brilliant, he couldvle knocked it down, that would be even bigger trouble for the election!!!!!!

  12. To A Lang, Lkwd Guy, etc: the majority did NOT find that as a penalty it overstepped Congress’ power under the Commerce Clause. If you read the language, Roberts writes that section of analysis as being his OWN opinion…meaning the other 4 justices agree with the RULING (that Obamacare is lawful) but not necessarily for the same reason. Roberts does NOT write “it is the opinion of the COURT” with regard to his analysis of the penalty/ Commerce Clause. This is crucial- that means no Supreme Court ruling/ precedent has been established by this ruling actually limiting Congress’ powers under the Commerce Clause for the future.

  13. I believe that the constitution considers income tax unconstitutional the way it is imposed on us today. And I believe that the health care tax would be just as unconstitutional.

  14. toivel ben gebhydk,

    The five justices that agree that the commerce clause does not cover the health care mandate would be Roberts (as he wrote in his opinion) and the four dissenters, namely, Scalia, Thomas, Kennedy and Alito. You are correct that no precedent was established as those four for some reason did not join Roberts to form a majority opinion.

  15. I dont usually comment. But when given the platform in my hands what can I say. This was a good refreshing article. Thanks for writing..

  16. IT seems to me that the reason that so much fuss is being made about Obamacare is because the American medical association (AMA ) and the pharmaceutical companies are in a panic. There would be a cap placed on what a medical doctor can make as a salary and what they can charge.That’s why private practice exist ,the sky’s the limiy. In the end it;s not the politics it ‘s all about the MONEY!!!

  17. True, but a majority finds that the commerce clause was violated. But, you are right, as long as there is no concurrence, then the law is not like Roberts.

    What is with the Medicare part? 7 to 2! It was not even close. I think this was the first time that a spending clause condition was invalidated.

  18. Roberts is brilliant????? Because he made a brilliant political move??? It’s not his job to be politically brilliant. His job is to protect us from unconstitutional laws. And he failed.


  19. I consider Mr. Joseph to be another pseudo-Conservative, just like his hero Roberts, who is always looking for nuances to bend our Conservative values.

    What a waste of time to even bother arguing.

    Frankly, we are doomed as a country. I see no possible good ending to this. I hope I’m wrong, but I have a very crushing feeling that we will have a second American revolution soon, to free us from this big government over-reaching of power. And Jews will be a scapegoat, as usual. Think about it, the Supreme Court has just made it constitutional for the federal government to force us to do anything they want, and just call it a tax.

    All thanks to the “brilliant” Chief Justice Roberts.

  20. With all due respect, you clearly need some legal education. No good can come out of granting the federal government absolute power to do anything it wants. And maybe you should read the dissent- it will clearly lay out for you why your logic is so muddled.

  21. i am happy there’s someone who sees a silver lining. that said, i think mr joseph is dead wrong. the chief justice should be above worrying about ‘activist judges,’ after all he haas a lifetime appointment. he shouldn’t need to ‘sit one sidelines during the election’ season, as the judicial branch is separate and unelected. mr joseph should not give john roberts any credit whatsoever. the ruling was foolish and if anything else, foolhardy.

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