I am too burned out to be following the Obamacare saga that closely in the Supreme Court, but the major development today seems to be that the fifth justice, Anthony Kennedy, does not seem so convinced about the power of Congress to “mandate” that individuals buy a health insurance policy in 2014, or face a non-enforceable, possibly-tax-refund-reducing, penalty.
I am totally in favor of the Obamacare reforms, which would finally give the United States some semblance of a universal health care system. But I have a feeling that the way the individual mandate was framed is going to cause that portion of the law to be ruled unconstitutional.
If Congress had said that every taxpayer would have to pay a tax surcharge of $95, and provided a 100% credit for this amount for anyone who could confirm having a health insurance policy, this would have been algebraically equivalent to the health insurance mandate. (You would be taxed the $95 no matter who you were, but you get 100% credit for that tax if you produce a policy. So, in effect, a zero tax except on those who don’t have the correct health insurance.)
Monday’s arguments seemed to shoot down the idea that the mandate penalty, the $95, was a “tax”, and Tuesday’s seemed to hit hard on this idea that Congress cannot require you to “buy something you don’t want”. It may be that the road forward is for the Supreme Court to rule the penalty as unconstitutional, which would make Congress’ “requirement” to buy the same as asking everyone to stand for the pledge of allegiance, or to celebrate National Corn Byproducts Week.
The United States Supreme Court stinks. It was wrecked, beginning when the Southerners started politicking all of the modern Civil Rights rulings—starting with Brown vs. Board of Education. During the ’60’s, ’70’s, ’80’s and ’90’s, the “conservatives” agitated for their kind of justice on the bench, and we ended up with this nutty, right-wing activist court, which short-circuited the 2000 election and made George W. Bush President. They made our democratic elections into this auction, basically, where the people with the most money control the tone and content of the national debate, through a system of speech-bribery. They’ve made their thousand cuts at lesser-known laws, which have, in general, harmed the American public.
No wonder Justice Stevens retired rather than serve to the very end, and I am surprised he lasted that long with that bunch. I really worry what happens if we don’t soon get rid of Thomas, Alito, Scalia, Roberts, and, well, Kennedy.