You are viewing the NationofChange archives. For the latest news and actions, visit the new www.NationofChange.org.
Wednesday, October 22, 2014 / PROGRESSIVE JOURNALISM FOR POSITIVE ACTION
Get Email Updates | Log In | Register

Article image
E.J. Dionne Jr.
NationofChange / Op-Ed
Published: Thursday 29 March 2012
The irony is that if the court’s conservatives overthrow the mandate, they will hasten the arrival of a more government-heavy system.

Judicial Activists in the Supreme Court

Article image

Three days of Supreme Court arguments over the health-care law demonstrated for all to see that conservative justices are prepared to act as an alternative legislature, diving deeply into policy details as if they were members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

Senator, excuse me, Justice Samuel Alito quoted Congressional Budget Office figures on Tuesday to talk about the insurance costs of the young. On Wednesday, Chief Justice John Roberts sounded like the House whip in discussing whether parts of the law could stand if other parts fell. He noted that without various provisions, Congress “wouldn’t have been able to put together, cobble together, the votes to get it through.” Tell me again, was this a courtroom or a lobbyist’s office?

It fell to the court’s liberals — the so-called “judicial activists,” remember? — to remind their conservative brethren that legislative power is supposed to rest in our government’s elected branches.

Justice Stephen Breyer noted that some of the issues raised by opponents of the law were about “the merits of the bill,” a proper concern of Congress, not the courts. And in arguing for restraint, Justice Sonia Sotomayor asked what was wrong with leaving as much discretion as possible “in the hands of the people who should be fixing this, not us.” It was nice to be reminded that we’re a democracy, not a judicial dictatorship.

The conservative justices were obsessed with weird hypotheticals. If the federal government could make you buy health insurance, might it require you to buy broccoli, health club memberships, cellphones, burial services and cars? All of which have nothing to do with an uninsured person getting expensive treatment that others — often taxpayers — have to pay for.

Liberals should learn from this display that there is no point in catering to today’s hard-line conservatives. The individual mandate was a conservative idea that President Obama adopted to preserve the private market in health insurance rather than move toward a government-financed, single-payer system. What he got back from conservatives was not gratitude but charges of socialism — for adopting their own proposal.

The irony is that if the court’s conservatives overthrow the mandate, they will hasten the arrival of a more government-heavy system. Justice Anthony Kennedy even hinted that it might be more “honest” if government simply used “the tax power to raise revenue and to just have a national health service, single-payer.” Remember those words.

One of the most astonishing arguments came from Roberts, who spoke with alarm that people would be required to purchase coverage for issues they might never confront. He specifically cited “pediatric services” and “maternity services.”

Well, yes, men pay to cover maternity services while women pay for treating prostate problems. It’s called health insurance. Would it be better to segregate the insurance market along gender lines?

The court’s right-wing justices seemed to forget that the best argument for the individual mandate was made in 1989 by a respected conservative, the Heritage Foundation’s Stuart Butler.

“If a man is struck down by a heart attack in the street,” Butler said, “Americans will care for him whether or not he has insurance. If we find that he has spent his money on other things rather than insurance, we may be angry but we will not deny him services — even if that means more prudent citizens end up paying the tab. A mandate on individuals recognizes this implicit contract.”

Justice Antonin Scalia seemed to reject the sense of solidarity that Butler embraced. When Solicitor General Donald Verrilli explained that “we’ve obligated ourselves so that people get health care,” Scalia replied coolly: “Well, don’t obligate yourself to that.” Does this mean letting Butler’s uninsured guy die?

Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick called attention to this exchange and was eloquent in describing its meaning. “This case isn’t so much about freedom from government-mandated broccoli or gyms,” Lithwick wrote. “It’s about freedom from our obligations to one another . . . the freedom to ignore the injured” and to “walk away from those in peril.”

This is what conservative justices will do if they strike down or cripple the health-care law. And a court that gave us Bush v. Gore and Citizens United will prove conclusively that it sees no limits on its power, no need to defer to those elected to make our laws. A Supreme Court that is supposed to give us justice will instead deliver ideology.

© , Washington Post Writers Group


Author pic
ABOUT E.J. Dionne Jr.

E.J. Dionne writes about politics in a twice-weekly column and on the PostPartisan blog. He is also a senior fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution, a government professor at Georgetown University and a frequent commentator on politics for National Public Radio, ABC’s “This Week” and NBC’s “Meet the Press.” Before joining The Post in 1990 as a political reporter, Dionne spent 14 years at the New York Times, where he covered politics and reported from Albany, Washington, Paris, Rome and Beirut. He is the author of four books: “Souled Out: Reclaiming Faith & Politics After the Religious Right” (2008), “Stand Up Fight Back: Republican Toughs, Democratic Wimps, and the Politics of Revenge” (2004), “They Only Look Dead: Why Progressives Will Dominate The Next Political Era” (1996), and “Why Americans Hate Politics” (1991), which won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and was a National Book Award nominee. Dionne grew up in Fall River, Mass., attended Harvard College and was a Rhodes Scholar at Balliol College, Oxford. He lives in Bethesda, Md., with his wife and three children.

Yeah, I enjoyed reading

Yeah, I enjoyed reading Kennedy's comment. Let the SCOTUS decision to crash Obamacare lead to what this nation really needs -- Medicare part E for Everyone.

Funny thing: a couple of days ago I was organizing library books and came across a Bible printed back in the 80's. For kicks I closed my eyes, opened the book, and pointed. I kid you not -- here's where my finger landed:

(from Psalm 82)

God takes his place in the great assembly.
He pronounces judgment among the judges:
“How long are you going to judge unfairly?
 How long are you going to side with wicked people?”
                         Selah
Defend weak people and orphans.
Protect the rights of the oppressed and the poor.
Rescue weak and needy people.
Help them escape the power of wicked people.
Wicked people do not know or understand anything.
As they walk around in the dark,
all the foundations of the earth shake.

*****

Some things don't change much in 3000 years, eh?

--

Yup, I like hearing about

Yup, I like hearing about Kennedy's comment. Let the SCOTUS decision to crash Obamacare lead to what this nation really needs -- Medicare part E for Everyone.

Funny thing: a couple of days ago I was organizing library books and came across a Bible printed back in the 80's. For kicks I closed my eyes, opened the book, and pointed. I kid you not -- here's where my finger landed:

(from Psalm 82)
God takes his place in the great assembly.
He pronounces judgment among the judges:
“How long are you going to judge unfairly? 
How long are you going to side with wicked people?”                          
Selah
Defend weak people and orphans.
Protect the rights of the oppressed and the poor.
Rescue weak and needy people.
Help them escape the power of wicked people.
Wicked people do not know or understand anything.
As they walk around in the dark,
all the foundations of the earth shake.

*****

Not much has changed in 3000 years, eh?

--

Maybe I read the report

Maybe I read the report wrong, but I read that Scalia said,"What happens if nobody buys cars? The price of cars goes up." Now, not only is scalia corrupt, in my opinion, but that remark is just plain stupid. In 2008-09 no one was buying cars and the price of cars was falling through the floor. When people don't want to buy things the manufacturers of those things start lowering the price.

I also never understood why

I also never understood why the single payer system was abandoned. Perhaps it had no chance of passing congress at the time. It still would be the best way to solve the health care crisis and I hope at some point it is revived!

Let's see? The Supremes get

Let's see? The Supremes get while on the bench a hundred grand or more year, free lifetime full coverage health care plus a tens of thousands a year when they do retire. All paid for by Americans. But the Supremes can get millions more from wall street and a special few. You do the math. We've got what we paid for, low standard, low quality garbage. Cheap crap for short.

Where is the legitimacy in a

Where is the legitimacy in a Supreme Court that decides according to political ideology?

the democrats should have

the democrats should have never taken out the public option(Hillary's plan) where everyone would have the option to pay into medicare at a healthy person price and the very ill would be on the same medicare plan that I am on as a disabled person. Medicare is extremely efficient and non profit. the high costs are caused by fraud which needs much more attention. The only way we can accept the mess the republicans want, is to not allow anyone without proof of insurance to be treated unless they pay cash up front. People who show up in emergency rooms for free medical would need to be turned away or if showing signs of a serious infectious disease they would be seperated until they die. While the republicans are busy playing this game, we are all paying for the uninsured already. We also need to understand that we are in a cancer crisis because the government knew and lied to us since the 1800's about the hpv viris. This virus causes most cancers(not leukemias) ie: all female type, prostate,testicular,colon,colorectal, non melanoma skin cancers, many throat and mouth cancers and many more. It is passed quite easily through skin contact and should never have been tagged a sexual virus since you can catch it in gym class in contact sports. We have a very serious need to give everyone a chance and that is by getting everyone to chip in for the services they will eventually need.

Single-payer healthcare.

Single-payer healthcare. Economical, efficient. The solution to America's rotten, insurance based, for-profit healthcare monopoly.

Even Michael Moore decries

Even Michael Moore decries Obamacare as an abomination, forcing people to pay for-profit HMOs on pain of penalty of law! What's next, then?

"FOR-PROFIT TAXES!? Whee!"

For once, the SCROTUS is doing something right, even if it's for all the wrong reasons!

;-)

Thank you, E.J. Dionne Jr,

Thank you, E.J. Dionne Jr, for all of this information. On PBS NewsHour, which Aussies receive on a delayed broadcast, I've learned a fair bit--but not as much as you have just taught me quickly. It's morning in Sydney, and I'm about to dress to go to daily Mass at a boys' school where I'm the lead female chapel singer. I like preparing for Mass if I can. My family of origin was and is Jewish on both sides. I was converted dramatically. I mention this because, on religious matters, you are so good. I'm sure that your understanding of these matters is linked with your brilliance on what is really going on right now at Supreme Court level. It makes me very, very sad. Last night I managed to catch Justice Sotomayor. She is outnumbered, to put this mildly . . .

Congrats, EJ, for saying what

Congrats, EJ, for saying what those of us (esp. lawyers) who have been toiling out here in the field for years have been saying to anyone who will listen: the courts no longer care about "justice for all"- its all about imposing their ideology. That's why the conservatives work so darn hard to neutralize and negate progressives and liberals from the federal judiciary and to maintain control at all costs over the SCOTUS. Likewise, AJ, you are 100% correct that "Liberals should learn that there is no point in catering to today’s hard-line conservatives...." so why did they? Even Justice Kennedy said it might be more “honest” if government simply used “the tax power to raise revenue and to just have a national health service, single-payer.” That's what we though Obama promised us when he ran for president, right? Conservative activist justices have given us Bush v. Gore and Citizens United and so much worse that most american's dont know or understand. we better learn our lessons and get going or we wont recognize this country.

Comment with your Facebook account



Comment with your Disqus account

Top Stories

comments powered by Disqus

NationofChange works to educate, inform, and fight power with people, corruption with community.

If you would like to stay up to date with the best in independent, filter-free journalism, updates on upcoming events to attend, and more, enter your email below:

7 Compelling Reasons Why You Should Support NationofChange

Our readers often tell us why they’ve decided to step up and become supporters. Here are some of the top reasons people are giving.

1. You’re keeping independent journalism alive
The corporate owned media has proven that it can’t be trusted. In a media landscape wrought with spin and corruption, NationofChange stands in very scarce company.

2. You’re sticking it to the rich, powerful, and corrupt
When you have money in this country you can get away with damn near anything, and they do. NationofChange isn’t afraid to expose these criminals no matter how powerful they are.

3. Your donation is 100% tax-deductible
NationofChange is a 501(c)3 charity. People tend to assume that many other organizations are (most nonprofits are NOT) but it’s that 501(c)3 status is a bit more rare than you think.

Read the rest...