You’d think Judge John Roberts and Chief Justice John Roberts had never met. According to Judge John Roberts, “judicial self-restraint is the key check on the authority of the court.” Judges must not “look to [their] own values and beliefs” when interpreting the Constitution; they must “look outside [themselves] to other sources.” Chief Justice John Roberts seems to have forgotten that. Because when the Court struck down campaign finance legislation that establishes aggregate contribution limits this week in McCutcheon v. FEC, it acted on the basis of its own beliefs about the consequences of striking down the limits, rather than empirical evidence in the record of the case.
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Articles & Commentary
This Supreme Court is badly out of touch with the Constitution and political reality. Last week, in a 5-4 ruling in McCutcheon v. FEC, the Roberts Court dealt another blow to our Constitution's promise of democracy, striking down aggregate contribution limits designed to prevent massive campaign contributions to candidates, parties and PACs.
Health care reform supporters can no longer ignore the possible second crack these new legal challenges to ACA exchanges might give Justice Scalia and kindred spirits at inflicting damage far greater than remaining market or political threats. To best the Right’s predictable messaging blitz, ACA advocates must detail the vast scale of the chaos and injustice for which a court choosing to embrace opponents’ implausible claim will bear full responsibility. Most important, health care reformers need to underscore that, on the merits, the opponents’ legal theory is as absurd as their underlying fable that the ACA’s architects themselves intended the law to self-destruct.
Our organizations regularly take opposite sides on big constitutional issues. Whether it's the Affordable Care Act, campaign finance, presidential power, or nearly anything else, the progressive Constitutional Accountability Center and the libertarian Cato Institute typically disagree. Yet we absolutely agree that the Constitution require states to extend marriage licenses to same-sex couples. That's why we've jointly filed a brief urging the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit to affirm the district courts in Utah and Oklahoma that struck down those states' marriage restrictions.
Through a series of rulings, the court’s conservative majority’s rulings have instead made it easier for big-money donors to influence elections — while making it harder for many Americans to use the only political influence they have: their vote.
The administration's delays are also not constitutionally questionable. The framers of the Constitution directed the President not merely to “execute the laws” but also to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” From the earliest days of the Republic, that broad phrasing has been understood to mean that the President is to exercise judgment, and handle his enforcement duties, not with robotic obeisance to individual statutory terms or provisions but with fidelity to the overall statute and the purposes of Congress in enacting the underlying laws.
Most Supreme Court watchers are fixated these days on Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby—the important challenge to the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate scheduled for argument Tuesday. And why wouldn’t they be? With its potent mix of religion, sex, Obamacare, and prayerful corporations, it’s the blockbuster case of the term. It is also a crucial test of Chief Justice John Roberts’s leadership on the Supreme Court.
Alexander Hamilton wrote, “all men of sense will agree in the necessity of an energetic Executive.” That statement tells us what Hamilton would have thought of House Republicans, who last week passed the Enforce the Law Act, legislation directed at President Obama for, in the words of the House Report on the bill, “stretch[ing] his powers beyond their constitutional limits.”
The Supreme Court this week will hear arguments on whether corporations have the same right to exercise religion as living, breathing persons. That is the key issue in the upcoming challenge to the Affordable Care Act. The Supreme Court has never invested corporations with basic rights to freedom of conscience and human dignity. To do so would be a profound mistake.
Are secular, for-profit corporations free to violate the rights of their employees by claiming that the law violates their corporate religious conscience? That's the big question at the heart of the two blockbuster challenges to a key provision of Obamacare that will be heard by the Supreme Court next week. In its 225-year history, the Supreme Court has never held that secular, for-profit corporations are entitled to the free exercise of religion. It should not start now.