The Good, The Bad And The Ugly: Supreme Court Style

During the last week of June, the Supreme Court issued two major rulings, one regarding Arizona’s tough immigration law and the other the much awaited verdict of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly called “Obamacare.” The court rightly ruled 3 provisions of Arizona’s SB 1070 to be unconstitutional. SCOTUSblog reports, the court invalidated “sections [of the law] making it a crime to be in Arizona without legal papers, making it a crime to apply for or get a job in the state, or allowing police to arrest individuals who had committed crimes that could lead to their deportation.” Essentially the court ruled that employers can’t be forced to act as law enforcement and that individuals are not required to carry identification at all times. The court allowed the worst provision of the law to remain intact, that being the provision allowing police “to make a ‘reasonable attempt . . . to determine the immigration status’ of any person they stop, detain, or arrest on some other legitimate basis… The law also provides that ‘[a]ny person who is arrested shall have the person’s immigration status determined before the person is released’.” In layman’s terms: if you see a cop in Arizona and say “hi” or ask him a question, he then has the authority to determine whether or not you are legally present in that jurisdiction. Sadly, upholding the “papers, please” provision of SB 1070 is not the worst ruling by the Supreme Court. On June 28, the court upheld the most offensive provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The Anti-Injunction Act provides that those subject to a tax must first pay it and then sue for a refund. The court first had to decide whether the lawsuit could be brought forth. Chief Justice Roberts writes, “The present challenge seeks to restrain the collection of the shared responsibility payment from those who do not comply with the individual mandate. But Congress did not intend the payment to be treated as a ‘tax’ for purposes of the Anti-Injunction Act. The Affordable Care Act describes the payment as a ‘penalty,’ not a “tax.’ That label cannot control whether the payment is a tax for purposes of the Constitution, but it does determine the application of the Anti-Injunction Act. The Anti-Injunction Act therefore does not bar this suit.” Roberts continues, “The individual mandate is not a valid exercise of Congress’s power under the Commerce Clause and the Necessary and Proper Clause. Upholding the Affordable Care Act under the Commerce Clause would give Congress the same license to regulate what people do not do. The Framers knew the difference between doing something and doing nothing. They gave Congress the power to regulate commerce, not to compel it. Ignoring that distinction would undermine the principle that the Federal Government is a government of limited and enumerated powers. The individual mandate thus cannot be sustained under Congress’s power to ‘regulate Commerce.’… [T]he individual mandate must be construed as imposing a tax on those who do not have health insurance.” Even though Congress and President Obama repeatedly said the PPACA’s mandate and penalty was not a tax, the court determined that somehow it is a tax, otherwise the law simply compels commerce and that would be unconstitutional. Not surprisingly, this decision comes from the same government court that upheld Japanese internment, the Dred Scott decision, the War on Drugs, the Patriot Act, drug-sniffing dogs as probable cause, and the thousands of pages of federal gun regulation. The Declaration of Independence states “Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” I’ve said it a dozen times already, I’ll say it again: “I do not consent to being governed!” When will those in government listen and stop trying to control people like me?