In short, Roberts’ decision cannot fairly be faulted for misreading the ACA, nor flouting precedent, and certainly not for ignoring conservative principle. That so many on the Right have brutally turned against him shows that the only end-point they cared about was outright cancellation of Barack Obama’s signature accomplishment in an election year. It is more surprising that so many on the Left have bought into the notion that the decision was a spiffed-up political fix.
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For the tea party, which was built on the proposition that the Affordable Care Act is the quintessential example of an unconstitutional federal overreach, the Court's ruling is thus an exceedingly bitter pill. Coming, as it does, from the nation's very conservative Chief Justice, yesterday's opinion leaves the tea party's constitutional vision in shambles.
There are serious, legitimate critiques to be made if Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Antonin Scalia and Anthony Kennedy, in particular, join a ruling that strikes down the ACA.
Republicans clearly have no scruples about wrapping themselves in the mantle of the Constitution and the framers at every opportunity. Progressives must correct this chronic asymmetry if they harbor any hopes of saving contested legislative reforms, including landmark laws already on the books, from hostile judges and justices. Smart, well-founded, compelling legal and constitutional arguments must become a central part of progressives’ repertoire, just as they are for the Right.
For politicians who claim to love the Constitution, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer and deposed former state senator Russell Pearce appear to have no problem disregarding it when it suits their purposes.
The architects of our Constitution, like James Madison and Alexander Hamilton, made it absolutely clear that the federal government has the exclusive power to regulate immigration, and to consider the foreign policy implications of how we treat noncitizens within our borders.
Despite the tea-party-friendly "states' rights" rhetoric of the attacks on the ACA, many states and state legislators have been saying "don't tread on me" to the Act's challengers.
Our Constitution's text and history demonstrate that the national healthcare crisis—in which tens of millions of Americans lack access to quality, affordable care—is the sort of national problem that the framers of our founding charter wanted the federal government to have the power to solve.