FOR THOSE WHO WANT TO READ MY ENTIRE BLOG POST THAT WAS PULLED BY FORBES LAST WEEK
A COUPLE OF GOOD OUTSIDE COLUMNS
Appeals Court Calls President's Bluff on Obamacare
Tuesday, 03 Apr 2012 08:17 PM BY DAVID PATTEN
On Monday, Obama said that striking down his signature healthcare legislation would be an “unprecedented, extraordinary step” and would demonstrate a lack of “judicial restraint” by the Supreme Court.
He also pointed out that the nine Supreme Court justices are unelected, suggesting that it would therefore be undemocratic for them to overturn Obamacare, which narrowly eked through Congress by a seven vote margin in the House of Representatives.
“This is liberals in shock over watching their side being demolished in oral arguments,” Fox News commentator Charles Krauthammer said Tuesday, pointing out the courts have had the authority to strike down unconstitutional provisions for over 200 years. “And [they are] trying to bully the Supreme Court into ending up on their side in a case which they clearly had lost intellectually and logically.”
The order from the 5th Circuit for the Justice Department to clarify its position on judicial authority came during a separate challenge to Obamacare brought by physician-owned hospitals.
As a Justice Department lawyer began arguing the government’s case, Appeals Judge Jerry Smith interrupted the presentation to ask if the 5th Circuit Court had the legal authority to strike down a law it finds to be unconstitutional. CBS News reports that when the government lawyer answered affirmatively, the judge stated that it was not clear to “many of us” that the president agrees.
The three-judge panel then gave the Justice Department until noon Thursday to provide a three-page letter clarifying whether it believes courts have the authority to pass judgment on the constitutionality of laws.
“Clearly, Jerry Smith was upset by the president’s remarks and he has every right to demand clarification,” judicial expert Curt Levey of the Committee for Justice told Newsmax. “Obviously, he’s making a point as well as requesting clarification.
“But the president left himself open to that,” Levey added. “Of course the president doesn’t really believe the Supreme Court can’t strike down unconstitutional laws. But if the president’s going to say things like that to demagogue, then he is responsible for them.”
Many observers saw the president’s remarks as a clumsy attempt to “work the refs” and influence the court’s decision on his healthcare reforms. His challenge to the independent judiciary branch of government provoked widespread criticism from both sides of the aisle Tuesday.
“For the president to imply that the only explanation for a constitutional conclusion contrary to his own would be out-of-control conservative justices does the court a disservice,” wrote Washington Post correspondent Ruth Marcus, who has been a staunch defender of the president’s policies.
The Wall Street Journal, meanwhile, published a pointed editorial taking the president to task.
“Mr. Obama's remarks suggest he is joining others on the left in warning the justices that they will pay a political price if they dare to overturn even part of the law,” it stated. “As he runs for re-election, Mr. Obama's inner community organizer seems to be winning out over the law professor.”
By upping the ante, the 5th Circuit focuses more attention on a misstep that the administration would prefer go unnoticed. The president came under attack from the left and right Tuesday over what looked like a blatant attempt to intimidate the court and influence its verdict. He quickly backed off from his challenge to the judiciary, however.
“The point I was making is that the Supreme Court is the final say on our Constitution, and all of us have to respect it,” he said. “But it’s precisely because of that extraordinary power that the court has traditionally exercised significant restraint and deference to a duly elected legislature.”
Obama went on to assert that overturning congressional legislation was so extraordinary that the burden of proof would be on those who felt it could be unconstitutional.
That view, however, appeared to be at odds with the position of the key swing vote in the case, however: Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy.
“I understand that we must presume laws are constitutional,” Justice Kennedy said to U.S. Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli on the second day of oral arguments last week. “But, even so, when you are changing the relation of the individual to the government in this, what we can stipulate is, I think a unique way, do you not have a heavy burden of justification to show authorization under the Constitution?”
© 2012 Newsmax. All rights reserved-
Obamacare: The reckoning
By Charles Krauthammer, Published: March 22
Obamacare dominated the 2010 midterms, driving its Democratic authors to a historic electoral shellacking. But since then, the issue has slipped quietly underground. Now it’s back, summoned to the national stage by the confluence of three disparate events: the release of new Congressional Budget Office cost estimates, the approach of Supreme Court hearings on the law’s constitutionality and the issuance of a compulsory contraception mandate.
Cost: Obamacare was carefully constructed to manipulate the standard 10-year cost projections of the CBO. Because benefits would not fully kick in for four years, President Obama could trumpet 10-year gross costs of less than $1 trillion — $938 billion to be exact. But now that the near-costless years 2010 and 2011 have elapsed, the true 10-year price tag comes into focus. From 2013 through 2022, the CBO reports, the costs of Obamacare come to $1.76 trillion — almost twice the phony original number. It gets worse. Annual gross costs after 2021 are more than a quarter of $1 trillion every year — until the end of time. That, for a new entitlement in a country already drowning in $16 trillion of debt.
Constitutionality: Beginning Monday, the Supreme Court will hear challenges to the law. The American people, by an astonishing two-thirds majority, want the law and/or the individual mandate tossed out by the court. In practice, however, questions this momentous are generally decided 5 to 4 — i.e., they depend on whatever side of the bed Justice Anthony Kennedy gets out of that morning. Ultimately, the question will hinge on whether the Commerce Clause has any limits. If the federal government can compel a private citizen, under threat of a federally imposed penalty, to engage in a private contract with a private entity (to buy health insurance), is there anything the federal government cannot compel the citizen to do?
If Obamacare is upheld, it fundamentally changes the nature of the American social contract. It means the effective end of a government of enumerated powers — i.e., finite, delineated powers beyond which the government may not go, beyond which lies the free realm of the people and their voluntary institutions. The new post-Obamacare dispensation is a central government of unlimited power from which citizen and civil society struggle to carve out and maintain spheres of autonomy. Figure becomes ground; ground becomes figure. The stakes could not be higher.
Coerciveness: Serendipitously, the recently issued regulation on contraceptive coverage has allowed us to see exactly how this new power works. All institutions — excepting only churches, but not excepting church-run charities, hospitals, etc. — will be required to offer health care that must include free contraception, sterilization and drugs that cause abortion. Consider the cascade of arbitrary bureaucratic decisions that resulted in this edict:
(1) Contraception, sterilization and abortion pills are classified as medical prevention. On whose authority? The secretary of health and human services, invoking the Institute of Medicine. But surely categorizing pregnancy as a disease equivalent is a value decision disguised as science. If contraception is prevention, what are fertility clinics? Disease inducers? And if contraception is prevention because it lessens morbidity and saves money, by that logic, mass sterilization would be the greatest boon to public health since the pasteurization of milk.
(2) This type of prevention is free — no co-pay. Why? Is contraception morally superior to or more socially vital than — and thus more of a “right” than — penicillin for a child with pneumonia?
(3) “Religious” exemptions to this edict extend only to churches, places where the faithful worship God, and not to church-run hospitals and charities, places where the faithful do God’s work. Who promulgated this definition, so stunningly ignorant of the very idea of religious vocation? The almighty HHS secretary.
Today, it’s the Catholic Church whose free-exercise powers are under assault from this cascade of diktats sanctioned by — indeed required by — Obamacare. Tomorrow it will be the turn of other institutions of civil society that dare stand between unfettered state and atomized citizen. Rarely has one law so exemplified the worst of the Leviathan state — grotesque cost, questionable constitutionality and arbitrary bureaucratic coerciveness. Little wonder the president barely mentioned it in his latest State of the Union address. He wants to be reelected. He’d rather talk about other things. But there’s no escaping it now. Oral arguments began Monday at 10 a.m.