Thursday, June 25, 2015

A Nation of Law-Like Stuff

Wow. I guess I'll have to wait to read full legal analysis, but the Obamacare ruling that abandoned the plain meaning of the word "state" and ignored the common federal practice of pressuring states to comply with federal policies by conditioning federal money on doing what the federal government wants--as Gruber boasted about!--is discouraging from a rule-of-law point of view.

But now laws can be read with the divined intent (as defined at that moment) without regard to the text of the statutes.

On the bright side, statutes can be much shorter now. Why waste time crafting language that can stand up to judicial scrutiny when you can just pas a law that broadly says what Congress wants and let the executive handle the details?

Perhaps, as in the earlier Roberts decision on the Obamacare "tax" issue which upheld the requirement to purchase health insurance but which at least put a limit on federal powers to compel economic activity, there is something good in this.

And even if upholding the law lifts the burden on Republican governors whose citizens will lose subsidies, I can't support the ruling on that political basis contrary to my rule-of-law concerns.

It's probably time to stop thinking that the Supreme Court can save us from ourselves by striking down federal powers as unconstitutional.

Although there is another avenue for challenge. ...

A nation of laws, indeed. But initial reports are by definition incomplete. So I hope for the best despite the initial shock.

UPDATE: And I'd like to note that this is the logical collateral damage of the flawed process of passing the law without going through the normal committee process to find and fix drafting flaws. I was outraged at the time over that loss of Congressional process and authority even before we passed it to find out what is in it.

And now the court has ratified the reduction of Congress to a rubber stamp body fit only to issue guidelines to the executive and fund the resulting executive quasi-law without comment.

UPDATE: Yes, Congress has been damaged. And the court. Now the Supreme Court is the committee of last resort designed to correct drafting errors, inconsistencies, and now-inconvenient intent.

Our government branches are working as a seamless elite rather than checking and balancing. Which highlights what I've long said--it is foolish for conservatives to try to reform the behemoth that our federal government has become. The only way to combat the growing power of the federal level of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches is to shrink the size of the institutions and shrink the scope of their power.

We'd face the problem at the state level, but at least that is localized and, being both smaller and closer to voters, easier to address.

Although in the short run, perhaps we could fight the trend of the court "going native" in Washington, D.C., by relocating the Supreme Court to Kansas.

And yeah, I think we can now call this law SCOTUScare.

UPDATE: You know, the way people stand around outside the Supreme Court building waiting for decisions, the court should just make the leap and release white or black smoke to indicate their decisions.

UPDATE: I suppose one upside for Republicans is political. If Republican politicians are secretly relieved that the law is upheld because they don't have to cope with losing federal subsidies (as the law intended contrary to Roberts' misreading), then Democrats perhaps are secretly distressed that they now have to defend the act next year in the face of the real problems of implementing the complicated act and vast legal and bureaucratic apparatus designed to carry it out.

Some Democrats surely would have quietly welcomed the act being struck down before the act could reveal more of what is in it. Imagine the fun of railing against evil Republicans for dismantling a law that the supporters would be free to describe in glowing terms about what it would have done if allowed to operate!

Now Democrats have to defend every part of the still unpopular act that is only now being put into full effect.

In some ways, I don't know why Congressional Republicans would try to fix obvious problems narrowly without leveraging legislative "fixes" to chip away at the act. Doesn't fixing problems that even Democrats agree exist play into Democrats' hands by improving an  awful act and removing reasons to dislike it? Hey, "It's. the. law." Remember? The act is here to stay, they say. So let them enjoy it. All of it.

Perhaps we had to uphold the law in order to find out what is in it, away from the fog of SCOTUS rulings.