May 10, 2013 | 57 comments
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April 16, 2013 | 12 comments
This law remains utterly illegitimate.
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That, therefore, was the rancid sausage John Roberts apparently felt he had to salvage in supposed deference to the sanctity of the legislative process.
Even then, with the law having already experienced numerous near-death experiences and survived only on the basis of trickery and sheer dishonesty, this unconstitutional and illegitimate law — and a deeply unpopular one with a majority of the public — was on its death-bed again before Roberts lost his nerve. Roberts reportedly sided originally with those who would kill the law in its entirety. Logically, legally, constitutionally, he knew the law did not pass muster. Logically, legally, constitutionally, he also knew that the mandate’s penalty in particular was not a tax. That’s how he voted in conference, and that’s what he was prepared to announce — until Obama’s pressure and public scolding from some editorial boards made Roberts blink.
So, in illegitimate moves number thirteen and fourteen, Roberts both said that 13) something not called a tax and not located in the revenue section of the bill and not really resembling a tax in most respects, and not amounting to a tax according to the “most straightforward” or “most natural” reading of the law, could nevertheless be assumed to be a tax for constitutional purposes if he squinted hard enough, used his imagination, and climbed through Alice’s rabbit hole; and that 14) such a tax would be constitutionally legitimate even though it fits none of the definitions of acceptable taxes provided for in the Constitution’s text itself.
As noted eloquently enough in so many other columns that no elaborate re-explanations will be attempted here, it is also worth noting that Roberts also had to strain for constitutional “support” by citing a mere aphorism of a private letter from Ben Franklin, with a highly pregnant ellipse to make the quote applicable at all; and that he had to wildly conflate tax breaks or incentives on ownership or activity with a new tax on inactivity (as if the two — a tax on the one hand, and a tax exemption on the other — are among the same species and breed of beast).
In sum, then, this most sweeping of economic legislation ever passed by Congress has survived every step of the process by trickery, dishonesty, or breathtaking sophistry, while being defibrillated back into a heartbeat several times only with the aid of hack science and dark arts worthy of an illicit union between Dr. Frankenstein and a skilled necromancer.
There will be time aplenty in the coming months to take apart Roberts’ slipshod, intellectually illegitimate opinion clause by clause and argument by argument. There will be time enough to show that his transparent hackery quite devastatingly undermined the very “legitimacy” of the court that he made such a purely political decision to try to protect.
For now, though, it is worth studying the foregoing litany of injustices, committing it to memory, and letting its lessons burn with a cold fury in our brains and souls — a well-considered and purposeful fury that impels us all to do everything necessary to counteract the baleful effects of this abomination, and to make sure such a creature never raises its horrendous head again. This law is (figuratively speaking) the spawn of vile political beasts. It must be decapitated.