I know this seems counter-intuitive, but stick with me here for a bit, OK?
There turned out to have been three important issues decided by SCOTUS re: Obamacare today and I think they got them all correct for the reasons below. (The fourth, severability, became moot with the rewriting of the “mandate” as a “tax.”)
By far the most important philosophical issue is this: In the complete opposite of what an earlier SCOTUS ruled in the most divisive issue of our times – Roe v Wade, still ground-zero of our societal split – SCOTUS found a way to return the real issue to the Representatives of We the People in Congress. Because this is a legislative issue, i.e. governing what and how we do things, they are forcing the legislative branch to decide. Had they just overturned it they would have – correctly, in my view – been accused of ruling ideologically from the Right just as the earlier Roe Court ruled ideologically from the Left. And since I believe in the Constitution and Separation of Powers, I think this was the correct thing to do.
Now on to the specifics.
The issue with regard to the mandate was that the Left believed it could use a Commerce Clause that has been undergoing constant expansion since FDR to FORCE Americans to do something just because Congress wanted to. SCOTUS rejected that argument, deeming the mandate, under BOTH the Commerce AND Necessary and Proper clauses as unconstitutional. (More on the issue of taxation below.) This is a VERY GOOD THING FOR FEDERALISM AND AMERICANS. Congress CANNOT continue the expansion of Commerce to tell us what to do; America is a Republic, not a dictatorship; our Constitution defines what the Federal government can NOT do, not what it CAN do.
(UPDATE: Slate, linked below, calls this a “gutting” of the Commerce Clause, something they view with contempt and fear, something Americans view as a victory for Constitutional government and the Rule of LAW.)
This is a 10th Amendment issue. Never have the Feds been able to FORCE the states to increase taxes, and use taxes in a way specified by the federal government and unsupported by the Enumerated Powers. Obamacare attempted just that. Again, SCOTUS ruled this to be unconstitutional – a victory for our Constitutional republic and the 10th Amendment.
Given the opportunity NOT to adopt the necessary tax increases, some states will choose not to, a display of the sovereign nature of the States under our Constitution. My guess is that Red states will refuse to play (many already have passed legislation or propositions approved by a majority vote not to accept Obamacare). Blue states, many of which already are (or are very near to becoming) bankrupt, and whose citizens – even in Blue WI and DEEP Blue CA – have begun rejecting additional tax increases – will raise taxes for Medicaid at their peril, or will chose not to as they just can’t afford it. Many Dem legislators understand that, if San Diego and San Jose and WI can vote to begin to rein-in the tax state, they could be voted out of office if they try yet another tax increase, especially to pay for a law to which Americans object 2:1. One could say that the worst outcome of this ruling is on Dem legislators in Blue states. Again, the 10th Amendment and the Constitution have won – a VERY GOOD THING.
BOTH of these victories – Commerce and 10th – will have long-lasting effects in a variety of areas – and America and the Constitution won in both… and the Left – – LOST.
By ruling that this is a tax and that Congress can tax, SCOTUS puts the entire thing UNDER THE JURISDICTION OF CONGRESS, which is where it belonged. Dems already know that, had they tried to pass it as a tax it would have failed. This is why they specifically and categorically rejected the idea that it was a tax at all. Obama on Stephanopolous specifically rejected the idea it was a tax.
Well, if it’s a tax, it can be repealed in a heartbeat. And since President Romney and the upcoming GOP Congress already WANT to fix the tax code, guess what?
(One could argue that, since it has now been ruled AS a tax, yet was DENIED to BE a tax when the House voted on its passage, that the HOUSE – in which ALL tax legislation MUST originate – has NOT approved Obamacare AS A TAX and so must vote again to approve it as a TAX INCREASE, but I think this reaction might do more harm than good with the Center given how the MSM would spin it.)
I don’t see how this ruling energizes the Left to get to the polls in any numbers greater than their already-decreasing level of interest due to the utter failure of Obamanomics. They’ll just go “nyah nyah nyah,” to the Right, thinking that all is well in ProgressiveTotalitarianLand, and go on their merry way…
But – – the Right is enraged. The Right will go to the polls in greater numbers than 2010. I think Nov 2012 will make Nov 2010 look like a Sunday afternoon picnic.
And the Right that Romney has had trouble getting ahold of? He just got ALL of them. And the Independents? In a country that has held 2:1 AGAINST this bill since before it passed, as long as Romney plays this calmly and professionally and doesn’t come out swinging in hatred and angst and turn-off the Middle, he’ll get huge numbers of them, as well. I think this helps Romney (AND a GOP Senate and House AND GOP State Legislatures across the country) in a big, big way. And then, since it’s only a tax, and since Romney already has said he’ll reform the tax code, and since Blue states already are in or near bankruptcy and cannot afford this tax… It’ll go away, leaving a need to fix healthcare costs (we don’t have a healthcare problem, we have a how-to-pay-for-healthcare problem, BTW) that can be handled best by the market – and we will have a market-oriented Congress and President to fix that, starting January 2013.
If they are up to the task, and I think (hope?) they will be.
So, again, SCOTUS put the issue back in the hands of Congress where it belongs, rejected the Democrat Party’s continuing expansion of the Constitution to do whatever totalitarian scheme they can come up with, ensured faster bankruptcy for those states ruled by Democrats rather than governed by Republicans (probably turning more states Red in November), and enraged the Tea Party while at the same time NOT exciting Dem voters.
These are ALL GOOD.
One more comment in closing. I don’t think that forcing the Constitution to do what you want is acceptable from the Left OR the Right. It is no more acceptable to me for the federal government to force us to buy or to do something from the Left (like Obamacare), than it is to somehow demand a government of limited, enumerated, Constitutional powers involve itself in abortion or homosexuality from the Right. If the power is not vested in the Federal Government, the Federal Government cannot grab that power to rule according to the morals of EITHER side. Doing so would be the Rule of Man. America is under the Rule of Law, and this SCOTUS ruling supports that.
With this ruling America REMAINS a Republic under the Rule of Law as written in the Constitution, STILL the greatest document of human freedom ever written.
UPDATE: It turns out I am far from alone in my view of the value to the Right from this ruling: