Some Republicans believe the decision was a travesty. Others believe that Justice Roberts was “sly as a fox,” putting Democrats at a disadvantage in the upcoming election. On the day of the decision, my gut reaction was that the decision was a travesty, at least with respect to how justice was supposed to be served. I still feel that way, regardless of whether it holds benefits or costs politically.
The following perspective from Quin Hillyer is one that I believe reflects what truly happened:
By QUIN HILLYER on 7.6.12 @ 11:57AM
Folks, the constitutional rule of law lost. To use a more appropriate metaphor, the only thing that looks silver is the shining metal of knives the government wields.
The unprecedented takeover of one-sixth of our economy and the greatest loss of individual liberty that the largest number of Americans have suffered in over a century is just the tip of the iceberg. Whatever rhetorical spin one can put on Roberts’ opinion is more than offset by the practical, deep, transcending, and even hidden effects of the ObamaCare ruling.
Fitzgibbons also makes a crucial point that has received too little attention:
The principal duty of any court is to adjudicate the matter before it. Opponents of ObamaCare lost the case. Period.
All this talk about Roberts cleverly setting the court or the national political debate up for the next round is completely wrongheaded. That is not a judge’s, or a justice’s, job. The job is to decide correctly the case immediately before them. That’s why it’s called “case law.” The reigning interpretation of the Constitution and laws is developed by slow accretions of court decisions, not by the courts playing politics to protect their own “majesty” while supposedly painting political actors into a corner. Each case decision ought to stand on its own, with its own logic enjoying ample foundation. This decision manifestly doesn’t. Fitzgibbons is right to point that out.
Bill Flax in Forbes is even more damning regarding the decision:
In a ruling even more duplicitous than the brazen deception under which Obamacare passed, Chief Justice John Roberts essentially decreed the Constitution irrelevant. The individual mandate was declared unconstitutional – Caesar remains constrained, somewhat – but Obamacare speeds ahead anyway as tax. Unlawful legislation shall proceed, not on judicial precedent, but the legal equivalent of semantics.
The court refuses to countermand poor political choices. Protect yourselves at the polls, Roberts suggests. Authority is thus curbed only by the political class’s imagination and the electorate’s willingness to laden others with additional levies. Yet liberty’s safeguard has never been democracy; mob-rule in the Greek, but the Constitution.
The decision was not a good one from the perspective of the law. It was even a worse one for the future of freedom.