The Spectacle Blog

Taking Apart Roberts’ Awful Decision

By on 7.6.12 | 10:48AM

Chief Justice John Roberts' decision on the ObamaCare case was, if anything, even worse than most conservative critics have said. At CFIF, I consider it point by point. Although I didn't use these terms, what I show is that Roberts mischaracterized precedents, tortured logic, deliberately skated around constitutional restrictions on the taxing power, redefined words, unliterally rewrote the statute in two places, conflated tax breaks with an unprecedented beast amounting to a tax on inactivity, blatantly politicized the court in the name of avoiding a politicized image, and, as an aside, elevated a cliched aphorism to quasi-precedential status. In some places, he was grossly intellectually dishonest; in others, he was intellectually incoherent and/or philosophically hollow. If indeed he bowed to pressure from Barack Obama and the media, then he was pathetically craven; in finding a taxing power that not a single other court had found, he was stupendously arrogant. The decision was hamhandedly manipulative, logically insupportable, and deeply cynicial -- and, of course, was, throughout the taxing part, full of utter sophistry. 

Maybe Roberts was hoping that, with regard to the East Coast establishment, he will be seen like Confederate General Johnston was outside Atlanta, when he kept retreating rather than engaging Gen. Sherman in battle. A local newspaper editor, enthralled, wrote the Johnston's reputation had "grown with every backward step."

In terms of constitutional law and effective limits on federal action, by acknowledging limits on the Commerce Clause while expanding them on the taxing power he was like the American officer in Vietnam who said he had to "destroy the village in order to save it." This decision was the judicial equivalent of a justice showing evidence of suffering from Stockholm Syndrome with regard to the coastal "elites."

Call Roberts the Bart Stupak of the Supreme Court. He capitulation was just that bad.

Again, please do read my CFIF piece. Here's one paragraph, from a much larger article:

The maxim to choose an interpretation of a law that would accept the law as constitutional, over an alternative interpretation that doesn’t, is meant to apply in cases where the two interpretations are equally or near-equally reasonable. Here, though, as we have seen, Roberts had to strain and stretch and twist and skate and float and use misdirection in order to somehow, some way, pretend to impose a plausible interpretation on an assertion that is not even in the same logical solar system as interpretations that are “straightforward” and “natural.”

And yes, I do cite chapter and verse (figuratively speaking) to back up these assertions and conclusions.

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