"It is not our job to protect the people from the consequences of their political choices." This is probably the most important quote from Roberts' opinion for the Court. Now, this isn't a law blog, so I'm going to spare you a lot of details. But, after joking on the Supreme Court yesterday, I figured I'd give you a quick run down of my thoughts on the matter. If you don't care about the Supreme Court case, then uh, don't click below.
First, on the actual thing that people spent a year or two arguing: "Can the government force you to buy things through the exercise of the Commerce clause," conservatives were found to be in the right. The government cannot make you eat broccoli, as Scalia put it. However, on the second thing, which no one really spent much time arguing about because no one thought the fine was really a tax, everyone found out that the Supreme Court also agreed with what the right had been saying. They had, with much fanfare, been calling it the largest tax increase in history. The Supreme Court agreed. Which also meant that it fell within Congress' authority to tax. So, a loss on points.
On the up side, the expansion of the Commerce and Necessary and Proper clauses has been checked and strangled. However, a moral victory is not the same as a victory victory. The Affordable Care Act is back in the political sphere. However, continued expansion of government power by claiming nebulous commerce clause justification is dead for now.
Now, the fact it is really a secret tax that we had to pull out of the government during oral argument is important. The dissent (people keep saying Scalia, but I thought Kennedy read it?) makes this clear: "Taxes have never been popular, see, e.g., Stamp Act of 1765... Imposing a tax through judicial legislation inverts the constitutional scheme, and places the power to tax in the branch of government least accountable to the citizenry." That may be so (Althouse quoted here, and I like the snark about the Stamp Act). So be it. It's a political question now, so political solutions are where you go to solve it.
That's the point of Roberts' initial quote. People voted for the people who made this. They can remedy it by throwing the bums out. As the bums are never thrown out, we mustn't be all that upset by it. It isn't the Supreme Court's job to protect us from constitutional abuses of power or plain old bad ideas. That's what voting is for. So, now that the Supreme Court is done, we can all tone it down a little bit and go back to being nice to each other.
But, for the most part, we're trying to stay non-political here. So, here's the announcement for the launch date for Guild Wars 2.
Spot the pun!