Justice Roberts Pleads: 'Lie to Me'
When the shocking ObamaCare ruling came from the Supreme Court Thursday morning, the reaction from the conservative pundit class started with befuddlement -- then worked through confusion, shock, and of course anger. Later in the day, however, the pundit elites started to furrow their brows and dust off their elbow patches -- and proceeded to try to convince us rubes that we had overreacted. They treated us to all kinds of contorted rationalizations and justifications full of pseudo-intellectual gobbledygook.
We got this from Charles Krauthammer, George Will, Thomas Lifson, Erick Erickson -- among others.
And while I really tried to like it -- and really tried to find solace or a silver lining -- there are just some basic, fundamental things I could not ignore. The bottom line is that John Roberts just told Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi figuratively to "lie to me...lie to me and I'll like it!" One can only wonder if he liked it as much as Chris Matthews liked the leg tingle or as much as David Brooks liked the sharp crease.
Apparently he did.
Whatever the case, our Harvard-educated chief justice -- undergrad and law school -- just made it the law of the land that as long as a president and House speaker and Senate leader lie long enough and in a bald-faced enough way to the entire nation about a society-changing piece of legislation, what they pass is just fine and dandy if we can eventually admit that it's a tax.
Actually, it's more of a stretch than that. Technically, not Obama or Reid or Pelosi has yet admitted that it's a tax. Roberts even did that for them -- and thus he found a perverted way to call it constitutional. He did it to himself.
Don't Ivy League folks say and do the darnedest things sometimes? Next thing you know, we'll have a Treasury secretary who can't figure out TurboTax.
But the chief justice's crimes against the Constitution did not stop with memorializing and rewarding dishonesty. He gave logic and reality a good whipping as well.
"Under [my] theory, the mandate is not a legal command to buy insurance," Roberts wrote. "Rather, it makes going without insurance just another thing the Government taxes, like buying gasoline or earning income."
Yes, Roberts actually wrote those words in what will certainly go down as his most famous and studied work ever. Our Ivy League-credentialed chief justice just wrote that going without insurance can be taxed just like income and buying gas, without realizing that many people do not make income or buy gas.
It must have escaped Roberts that you can avoid making income -- which is ironic, since many of the folks celebrating his ruling avoid just that. And he missed that you can also avoid buying gas. Heck, Obama's energy secretary avoids that. But now, under Roberts's own theory and using Roberts's own words, you and I cannot avoid buying insurance without being taxed as a result. And as we mentioned, our Treasury secretary -- not to mention the former Ways and Means Committee chair -- manages to avoid being taxed.
Beam me up, Scotty!
This ruling is just beyond foolish. It is parallel universe stuff. Antonin Scalia said in his dissent that "the Court today decides to save a statute Congress did not write ... [it] regards its strained statutory interpretation as judicial modesty, it is not. "
Let me translate: you just wrote a bill that did not really exist so that you could uphold it on arguments that were not made -- and you are not half as smart as you think you are in doing so.
Scalia continued: "It amounts instead to a vast judicial overreaching. It creates a debilitated, inoperable version of health care regulation that Congress did not enact and the public does not expect."
Which reveals what is so shockingly naïve about the Roberts's ruling. He thinks he showed restraint by virtue of what he ruled on the Commerce Clause -- all the while performing a bigger contortion under the guise of taxation to create something that cannot work and is not wanted and has not been passed.
What Scalia says, and I reiterate, is that ObamaCare was not enacted as a tax program, and therefore Roberts was writing a new bill to call it a tax program. It is shameful and scary -- and there is no way that any of our Founders would approve.
Ah, but our Founders were not privy to the wisdom of our current-day so-called conservative elite pundit class. Wizards like George Will, who called it "a substantial victory" for conservatives by improving "our civic health by rekindling interest in what this expansion threatens -- the Framers' design for limited government."
So let me get this straight. We had to lose to win? We had to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory so that, theoretically, we can one day perhaps maybe win again on this very issue? Maybe perhaps? Huh?
And oh, no one had been rekindled until Roberts ruling? Earth to Mr. Will: have you heard of the ObamaCare town halls? Have you heard of the Tea Party? Did you hear about Scott Brown, Chris Christie, Bob McDonnell -- and oh, the 2010 midterms? Things have been rekindled for a while here.
Yet this is elite conservative wisdom. Frankly, I think Mr. Will needs to get out more. Out of D.C. that is.
And then there's Charles Krauthammer, whose tortured logic includes the notion that Roberts pulled off "one of the great constitutional finesses of all time. He managed to uphold the central conservative argument against ObamaCare, while at the same time finding a narrow definitional dodge to uphold the law -- and thus prevented the court from being seen as having overturned, presumably on political grounds, the signature legislation of this administration."
Again, we have to lose to win because, um, why exactly? And to clarify, Roberts upholds the law by finding "a narrow definitional dodge" -- and this is finesse? I think Sherman Potter called such "chinchilla chips."
To be fair, perhaps we just don't appreciate the munificence of Roberts the way Krauthammer does: "Why did he do it" writes Krauthammer, "because he carries two identities. Jurisprudentially, he is a constitutional conservative. Institutionally, he is chief justice and sees himself as uniquely entrusted with the custodianship of the court's legitimacy, reputation and stature."
Translating Krauthammer, we must be willing to sacrifice the Constitution today so that the body singularly charged with being the final gatekeeper of that document can maintain its moral imperative to maybe save the Constitution at some point in the future...maybe...perhaps someday.
Sorry, folks. As we say in flyover country, "that dog won't hunt." We just saw the Court sanction unlimited taxation on behavior and give permission to lie about it at the same time. And no amount of tortured ruminations from elites can put lipstick on that particular pig. Please. Don't lie to me.A