What 'It's the Law-of-the-Land' Means

I've heard proponents of the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. ObamaCare, such as Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, declare, "It's the law-of-the-land."

What that's supposed to mean is that once the Supreme Court has ruled that an act (or practice) is constitutional, opposition should cease because "it's the law-of-the-land." According to Obamacare's proponents' logic, all citizens must always obey the law.

This poses at least two quandaries.

If citizens are supposed to obey the law, what are we to make of the German resistance to Hitler and the Nazis between 1933 and 1945? If my reading of German history during that period is correct, virtually everything the Nazis did -- other than the bloodletting on the "Night of the Long Knives" on June 30-July 2, 1934 and the violence against Jews on Kristallnacht on November 8-9, 1938 -- was legal, i.e., was based on law.

Hitler and his Nazi henchmen sought to provide a patina of legitimacy, i.e., legality, to virtually everything they did. (If you read books about the lives of ordinary Germans during the Nazi era, such as They Thought They Were Free, by the late Milton Mayer, you quickly grasp what the Nazis' legitimacy gained for them between 1933 and 1945. Not only did the ordinary men Mayer interviewed think they could go about their lives unfettered, but they also assumed -- they didn't have my Little League coach, obviously -- that the government, i.e., Hitler and his lieutenants, was following "the law-of-the-land.")

Hitler was named chancellor on January 30, 1933 via legal means, as provided for by the "Weimar constitution." He was made Führer und Reichskanzler on August 19, 1934 by a legal plebiscite in which 95.7% of the eligible electorate went to the polls and 88.1% approved of the move. (Most, but not all historians tell us that the 1934 referendum was the last "free" election to be held in Germany for the next decade or more.)

If the Nazi period ought not serve as a cautionary note -- Germany is a foreign country -- what are we to make of the U.S. Supreme Court's 1896 ruling in Plessy v. Ferguson (163 U.S. 537), which established the constitutionality of "separate-but-equal" racial codes? "Separate-but-equal" was the law-of-the-land for 58 years, until another Supreme Court decision, Brown v. Board of Education (347 U.S. 483), overturned the principle in 1954.

Let's do a mental exercise, and go back to the America before the Brown decision. How might those who would have us kowtow to ObamaCare because "it's the law-of-the-land" have conducted themselves under the "separate-but-equal" principle when it came to race relations?

If you accept the pro-ObamaCare logic, that all citizens should obey every "law-of-the-land," then you have no choice but to declare the actions of early civil-rights icons such as Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Jr., etc. "criminal," and demand that they be tried and found guilty of criminal conduct. (Actually, the early civil rights activists were willing to pay any legal penalty for their "crimes." So, in that sense, at least, the issue is moot.)

It's also worth noting that, according to the Obamacare advocates' logic, one also has to declare that the "Freedom Riders," "Freedom Marchers," "civil rights demonstrators," etc. were acting against "the law-of-the-land." On the other hand, "Bull" Connor and others of his ilk were upholding "the law-of-the-land."

Turns history on its head, doesn't it?

We have a supreme irony here. The Obamians like to pronounce that they are the ultimate proponents of "hope and change." But if we accept their logic vis-à-vis ObamaCare, change should not happen.

That's an odd posture, given the missed deadlines and changes to the 2010 law being instituted by Dear Leader himself, or by minions in his administration. Not only have portions of the act been delayed -- without, of course, getting congressional authorization -- but Dear Leader has seen fit to have the government pay 75% of the premiums for our glorious heroes in Congress and their thousands of munchkins -- staff -- who bleat that they can't afford ObamaCare's mandated insurance premiums. (The rest of us, of course, are on our own.)

To make matters worse, Montana Senator Max Baucus -- a key author of the 2010 bill -- now tells us that it will be "a train-wreck," which probably means that even more changes will be forthcoming out of the Administration. Will any future changes be made by congressional authorization? (Since Baucus has announced he will not seek re-election in 2014, he won't be around to find out.)

Now that, by hook and crook, Obama has his signature program -- ObamaCare -- as law, and John Roberts, joined by four left-wing Supreme Court judges, conjured up enough legal arcana to certify its constitutionality, Dear Leader's administration will brook no change. Unless, of course, Dear Leader makes the change(s) himself. (Only the naïve and/or simple-minded would think that an administration operative, such as Sebelius, would change the ObamaCare law without Dear Leader's approval.)

Let's return to the question of what the Obamians -- with their "obey 'the law-of-the-land'" mindset vis-à-vis ObamaCare -- would have had the civil rights movement do before the 1954 Brown decision. If a citizen must obey "the law-of-the-land," people like Martin Luther King, Jr. and his associates would have had little justification for opposing "separate-but-equal" racial codes. "Separate-but-equal" was "the law-of-the-land."

At the very least, there's a moral obtuseness in those who insist that citizens obey "the law-of-the-land," without examining, as Dr. King did in his "Letter from a Birmingham Jail," whether a law is just or unjust.
Some features of Obamacare -- such as its requirement that employers pay for birth control for employees, even if that contravenes the employer's religious beliefs -- are clearly in violation of
the Constitution's First-Amendment guarantee of freedom of religion.

What about those of us who may not oppose ObamaCare on religious grounds, but still believe it to be an unjust law? (National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius [2012] was wrongly decided.) Are we to be denied our First-Amendment guarantee of the right to petition (the government) for redress of our grievances? May we not peacefully assemble -- in the Internet era, the notion of "assemble" assumes new meanings -- to lobby against this unjust law?

Even before Obama was immaculated on January 20, 2009, he and his minions have made their statist proclivities clear to anyone who chose to see. The Obamians' insistence that citizens obey ObamaCare because it's "the law-of-the-land" also signals that they're fascists, of the type Jonah Goldberg warned us about

This leads to the next question: what if stubborn "boobs" (such as yours truly) go on insisting that ObamaCare be defunded or abolished? We may soon find out.