Thursday, June 28, 2012

Politics: Constitutional doesn't equal good idea

That is my take away from the just reported decision regarding the Affordable Care Act.

The key quote lifted by the CNN.com article:
In his opinion, Roberts appeared to note the political divisions of the health care law, writing that "we do not consider whether the act embodies sound policies." "That judgment is entrusted to the nation's elected leaders," the opinion said. "We ask only whether Congress has the power under the Constitution to enact the challenged provisions." The narrow focus of the ruling on key issues such as the individual mandate -- limiting it to taxing powers rather than general commerce -- represented the court's effort to limit the government's authority. "The framers created a federal government of limited powers and assigned to this court the duty of enforcing those limits," Roberts wrote. "The court does so today."

Just as the saying is true, what is legal is not necessarily moral, what is constitutional is not necessarily sound public policy.

If Congress passed a law that said, "tax rates shall rise to 50% for all making over $50,000" would that be unconstitutional?

Probably not!

But would it be good economic policy?

Probably not!

The ruling protects the Supreme Court as an institution but essentially endorses the premise that the only limiting principle is "can we get 51 votes in the Senate and 218 in the House?"

The running joke had been, could there be a law mandating the eating of broccoli to reduce health care costs?

The answer by liberals was, no such law would ever pass because it is silly but in theory it would be constitutional.

Thus, the limiting principle in the minds of many is that if a law could pass, it is constitutional.

The Court (essentially Chief Roberts, the swing deciding vote) has handed the ball to the American voters. He is saying, if the people want to vote out those who supported the ACA and vote in people who will repeal it, then go ahead; our job is to rule on Constitutionality not whether something is sound public policy.

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