POLL: SCOTUS upheld ObamaCare subsidies in states

For the second time, the Supreme Court upheld ObamaCare. They ruled in favor of subsidies in states that did not set up their own health care exchanges.

This decision was 6-3.  HERE

Chief Justice John Roberts voted with the court’s liberals to support of the law. He thought the phrase in question was ambiguous and that it had to be interpreted in the larger context.

Justice Scalia’s dissenting opinion is stinging. He wrote that now we ought to call it SCOTUSCare.

Let’s have a poll.

Chose your best answer. The combox is open. THINK before posting.

What think you about SCOTUS upholding ObamaCare subsidies in states?

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  1. greenlight says:

    At the time of my voting there were seven votes for “delighted”. I’m genuinely curious how those people see this as anything other than flouting the rule of law. Is it just that the final result was the one you happened to prefer, or do you honestly think their reasoning was correct? If the latter, could you please explain how it was correct, and how this tortured word salad of a ruling can’t now be used to justify the whims of any future justices?

  2. JesusFreak84 says:

    The decision was dumb, but entirely expected =-

  3. Gregg the Obscure says:

    I work in hospital finance. I’m one of about three thousand folks to be a “Certified Healthcare Finance Professional”. I’m horrified by how many of my colleagues are ecstatic about this ridiculous ruling.

    That being said, this ruling is much less evil than Roe v. Wade, Doe v. Bolton, Casey v. Planned Parenthood, Griswold v. Connecticut, Lawrence v. Texas, Evans v. Romer and, in all likelihood, next week’s Obergefell v. Hodges. The King ruling attacks the rationality and fairness of American civil law, while the others are violent oppositions to universal natural law.

  4. poohbear says:

    I voted ridiculous.

    My state has its own exchange, and I receive a subsidy to pay for my un-affordable care. While I certainly feel bad for those who need a subsidy, it seems clear the law only applies to states with their own exchange. Perhaps if the SCOTUS had upheld this, it would have brought the high cost of Obamacare to light, but I’m guessing this is exactly what they didn’t want to do.

    (yes, I would feel the same way if I was in a state without an exchange)

  5. Elizabeth D says:

    The ambiguous thing about this is that the Supreme Court upheld what was the pretty obvious intent of the drafters of the law, even if it wasn’t the letter of it. I do not support Obamacare primarily because of the HHS mandate and abortion funding conscience rights and religious freedom problems. Health care access for the poor is a moral issue, and this was one solution to that, charity hospitals (such as Catholic hospitals) were the original solution and this practically aims to make them obsolete, but at this stage in time it seems increasingly hard to argue that the typical “Catholic” hospital is much more than a brand name. Obamacare is also shockingly expensive for some people and they have no legal right to opt out. It is also shockingly expensive to the public.

    Anyway, the Supreme Court was not deciding on the merits of Obamacare but making a judgement call whether to side with what it fairly clearly intended to say. I didn’t vote any of the answers because I have no liking for Obamacare and am not cheering for the decision, but am not disgusted, am not indifferent, and I do know something about it even if I feel the details are over my head.

  6. Before Obamacare we had Medicaid
    We had CHIP
    We had Medicare
    We had the VHA

    How is subsidies under Obamacare somehow different? You can argue the level of federal spending is wrong, but federal spending on health care is hardly a new thing.

  7. yatzer says:

    I know a little, and care a great deal, but haven’t been able to figure it out enough to vote.

  8. greenlight says:

    Elizabeth D, the Court didn’t uphold the intent of the drafters at the time of the drafting. The whole part about state subsidies was intended to be a carrot/stick for the States to set up their own exchanges. It was only when that didn’t work out that they said “Oh what we REALLY meant was…”, and THAT was what the court upheld. They (the court) tied themselves in rhetorical knots to save this mess. Scalia was right in his dissent, words have no meaning anymore.

  9. Bosco says:

    This is the same Chief Justice Roberts who did not even get the Presidential Oath of Office right in 2009 and had to swear-in the Lord of the Flies in a private ceremony with limited press coverage at a later time.

  10. Deo volente says:

    I believe the statutory language is self evident: a State Exchange means a State Exchange. What kind of legal mind must go through such mental gymnastics in order to reach a goal they’ve decided in advance? Lord help us!

  11. ecs says:

    You do not got beyond the express words to discover the intent. Only if the express words are ambiguous is there any legitimate reason to look beyond them in order to determine the proper interpretation of the law. The express words here are in no way ambiguous. Quite the contrary. This is lawless judicial activism. John Roberts is a disgrace. What a disaster this man has been. We can all blame Obama all we want for destroying the country. But in reality, the two secondary culprits are Boehner and Roberts. I don’t know who bought these two men out. But they were either bought or someone has gotten something on them or they are both just agents of the Democrat party machine that stealthily found got themselves to the tips of the Republican machine in order to corrupt the Dems political enemy from within. Or, it could be all three of these things!

    The only thing that is a certainty in this country now is that America is pretty much dead. Our form of government has been eradicated. Our way of life is destroyed.

  12. ecs says:

    And Obamacare was never intended to provide healthcare for the poor. Obamacare is about communist medicine and government control. That’s all it was ever about.

  13. monknoah says:

    The decision is not surprising at all. I take issue with aspects of the ACA; however, Burwell has always been a leading candidate for the Canon of Constitutional Avoidance. As Wikipedia puts it,

    If a statute is susceptible to more than one reasonable construction, courts should choose an interpretation that avoids raising constitutional problems. In the US, this canon has grown stronger in recent history. The traditional avoidance canon required the court to choose a different interpretation only when one interpretation was actually unconstitutional. The modern avoidance canon tells the court to choose a different interpretation when another interpretation merely raises constitutional doubts.

    The chief justice wrote, ““In this instance, the context and structure of the act compel us to depart from what would otherwise be the most natural reading of the pertinent statutory phrase.” That language invokes the canon cited above.

    The problems with the ACA are not constitutional problems; they are natural law problems. The U.S. Constitution permits abortion and will probably require same-sex marriage before the week is over. This is not a document that is friendly to Catholic concerns.

    John Courtney Murray was wrong. We are strangers in a strange land.

  14. aviva meriam says:

    I’m disgusted and totally unsurprised.
    I’m also appalled at the overall destruction of the rule of law.

  15. Facta Non Verba says:

    Pure applesauce! Interpretive jiggery pokery.

  16. Xopher says:

    I am not a lawyer, but I have taken law classes (and stayed at Holiday Inn Expresses)…BUT most importantly, I have training in LOGIC, as well as some just plain-old “sense,” and even I can see what was meant in each part of the law referred to in the arguments…”State” is a “state” is a “state.” Where it says “THE state,” it is referring to the same state referred to IN THE SAME SENTENCE as “A state,”…NOT to the Federal Leviathan “STATE.”

    Now, to a Statist, this is all just nit-picky nonsense, because the whole federation is “THE STATE” to them, and there are no “a state”s, but to those of us who aren’t chasing after power and tyranny, equivocation is not allowed. Welcome to our post-Constitutional Ameritopia.

  17. L. says:

    I have practiced law for 31 years. What I have seen on the state level is that power matters more than legal principle, and we now see this demonstrated yet again at the supreme court level. Lawyers can rationalize anything, and we’ll see them continue to twist legal principle and violate long-recognized rights to advance the left’s agenda.

  18. Elizabeth D says:

    greenlight, I am no expert, but logically the drafters cannot have meant for the inevitable noncooperation of some states to completely break the implementation of the law. They did make provision for people in states without state exchanges to sign up via a federal exchange, so they cannot have intended for people signing up therefore through a federal exchange to be denied the subsidy (leaving them without health insurance that Obamacare legally requires them to have) simply because they live in (for instance) my state of Wisconsin where Gov Scott Walker did not want to set up an exchange.

    Of course, I am not unsympathetic at all to the interpretation that it is a bad law with gross fundamental flaws in how it was planned to work and should be allowed to hang itself.

  19. ecs says:


    The statute here is not open to more than one reasonable interpretation. To have more than one here you have to ignore the words. That is not what your quote is talking about I don’t think. And if it is, then the commenter is likely a leftist constitutional scholar which means that we are dealing with something completely separate and apart from mere interpretation. Progressive constitutional scholars are not in the business of interpreting the constitution. They are in the business of re-writing it.

    Obamacare in saner times would most certainly have serious constitutional issues. And abortion is not “permitted” by the US Constitution. Abortion was written into the US Constitution by 7 progressive justices. Again, in saner times, there would never have been a place for abortion in our country’s constitutional jurisprudence. What we have with both these Obamacare rulings and abortion is a complete breakdown in the rule of law to the extent “the law” is something higher than the edicts of a single man in the White House.

  20. jltuttle says:

    Elizabeth D, read Scalia’s dissent. He explains it all in depth, clearly and concisely. For lawyers who believe in the rule of law and the courts, this decision represents the end of an era.

  21. Bosco says:

    @Elizabeth D,
    I was in the legal profession in an adjudicatory capacity for 25 years. Forgive me, but I must say your analysis is gravely flawed (as was this majority opinion by SCOTUS’) and contrary to the plain reading of the language of the enabling legislation.

    The principle is that when legislation is written the language employed therein is entirely at the discretion of the legislative body. If the language does not include a particular item then (presupposing the legislators were thoughtful men and women) the item must have been excluded deliberately.

    If an omission occurred then a supplemental piece of legislation can always, and must in fact, be passed at a later time to correct the supposed omission.

    Judicial interpretations must be grounded in the law and evidence otherwise such interpretations are driven by emotion, faux intuition, and prejudice.

  22. Geoffrey says:

    I voted “I don’t care one way or another” mostly because I live in a state that wouldn’t have been affected by the desirable decision. Our only hope is for the Republicans to retain Congress and for a Republican to get into the White House. Hopefully there will be some decent ones that Catholics can morally support.

  23. The Masked Chicken says:

    I don’t have healthcare and I can’t afford Obamacare. The IRS has taxed me for not having health care, which is kind of ironic, since it was the Feds who made the price so high. My question is: is it immoral to pay the tax? I know it is not direct support for abortion, but is the tax sufficiently remote participation to not be sinful to pay?

    If I have time, I will look into getting an exemption, but I will be on the road for the next week-and-a-half, so that is not looking promising.

    Anyway, I am sure other people are in the same boat and the bishops have not weighted in on the morality of the tax, as far as I know, so there needs to be some discussion about this.

    The Chicken

  24. Benedict Joseph says:

    We all knew how this was going to turn out, didn’t we? We all know what will happen with the same-sex marriage ruling as well, heartbreaking as that is.
    The victory here is what I saw written in dissent by Justice Scalia, “Words no longer have any meaning if . . .” You can fill in the dots as you like. He speaks truth. Indeed, words do no longer have any meaning. While Pope John Paul called us the Culture of Death (which surely it is) – more pertinently it might be called the Culture of the Lie.
    We are in a worldwide meltdown that could be diagnosed as socio-pathological dissociative reaction. There can be no intervention, no protocol to remedy this cultural decay unless our astors conclude boldly, without ambiguity, to resist this decomposition, this deliberate deconstruction of reality, with the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Come the Synod, if the Church finds itself without the fortitude to man-up (I use this in the most inclusive mode, Teresa of Jesus prayed “Lord! Give me virile nuns!) we will be judged as having capitulated to the Father of Lies.

  25. robtbrown says:

    L. says:

    I have practiced law for 31 years. What I have seen on the state level is that power matters more than legal principle, and we now see this demonstrated yet again at the supreme court level. Lawyers can rationalize anything, and we’ll see them continue to twist legal principle and violate long-recognized rights to advance the left’s agenda.

    In 2002 the New Jersey State Supreme Court decided a case involved Robert Torricelli, who wanted to withdraw from the race for reelection because of corruption charges. The Dems wanted to replace his name on the ballot with another, even though state law prevented it.

    I read the decision, which was at best two pages long, and found it laughable. It was then I realized that any Supreme Court Justices can decide whatever way they want, without regard to existing law or textuaL cohesion. I assume it’s the job of the law clerks to find justification.

  26. David says:

    If you’re a lawyer, or a non-lawyer who respects logic, you know that the rule of law died in the United States today (if not earlier). The free country I was born in is rapidly disappearing. The last two paragraphs of Justice Scalia’s magnificent dissent explain this much more clearly than I can:

    Today’s opinion changes the usual rules of statutory interpretation for the sake of the Affordable Care Act. That, alas, is not a novelty. In National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius, 567 U. S. ___, this Court revised major components of the statute in order to save them from unconstitutionality. The Act that Congresspassed provides that every individual “shall” maintain insurance or else pay a “penalty.” 26 U. S. C. §5000A. This Court, however, saw that the Commerce Clause does not authorize a federal mandate to buy health insurance. So it rewrote the mandate-cum-penalty as a tax. 567 U. S., at ___–___ (principal opinion) (slip op., at 15–45). The Act that Congress passed also requires every State to accept an expansion of its Medicaid program, or else risk losing all Medicaid funding. 42 U. S. C. §1396c. This Court, however, saw that the Spending Clause does not authorize this coercive condition. So it rewrote the law to withhold only the incremental funds associated with the Medicaid expansion. 567 U. S., at ___–___ (principal opinion) (slip op., at 45–58). Having transformed two major parts of the law, the Court today has turned its attention to a third. The Act that Congress passed makes tax credits available only on an “Exchange established bythe State.” This Court, however, concludes that this limitation would prevent the rest of the Act from working as well as hoped. So it rewrites the law to make tax credits available everywhere. We should start calling this law SCOTUScare.

    Perhaps the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will attain the enduring status of the Social Security Act or the Taft-Hartley Act; perhaps not. But this Court’s two decisions on the Act will surely be remembered through the years. The somersaults of statutory interpretation they have performed (“penalty” means tax, “further [Medicaid] payments to the State” means only incremental Medicaid payments to the State, “established by the State”means not established by the State) will be cited by litigants endlessly, to the confusion of honest jurisprudence. And the cases will publish forever the discouraging truth that the Supreme Court of the United States favors some laws over others, and is prepared to do whatever it takes to uphold and assist its favorites.

    I dissent.

  27. Kerry says:

    Herein the question remains, do laws mean what the words say or not?
    What is it, Meg?
    Father, there’s a new act going through parliament.
    And by this act,they’re going to administer an oath…about the marriage.
    On what compulsion is the oath?
    -High treason.
    -But what is the wording?
    Do the words matter? We know what it means.
    Tell me the words. An oath is made of words.
    It will mean what the words say,
    It may be possible to take it.

    In the next scene More is locked in the tower.
    If the law does not mean what the words say, then there is chaos, anarchy, and tyranny.

  28. Mike says:

    Any candidate for Federal office who does not pledge to support the impeachment and removal from office of Roberts, Kennedy, Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan, isn’t worth an American’s attention.

  29. MWindsor says:

    ” The combox is open. THINK before posting.”

    Honestly Father, and with due respect, I don’t much care for thinking just now. I’d much prefer to rage a bit, dabble in a bit of wrath and anger, and emote all over your combox.

    I spent a portion of my youth under an oath to protect and defend the constitution of this country from all enemies, both foreign and domestic, and to bear true faith and allegiance to the same.

    And next week we’ll get the judicial diktat on “marriage”.

    Someone up above said that lawyers can rationalize anything. Someone – anyone – help me rationalize that oath against what’s happening to the constitution at the hands of the lawyers and politicians in Washington. I’m having a difficult time rationalizing it myself right now. Give up part of your youth to protect…this… (The only way to finish this sentence is to say it like a sailor, and I don’t think the good Father would appreciate the colorful language.0

  30. slainewe says:

    This decision is so evil that I would think the dissenting justices would be morally compelled to resign. Without some UNprecedented action on their part, what will stop this from becoming the precedent decision that Scalia predicts will confuse “honest jurisprudence” for years to come?

  31. Gregg the Obscure says:

    “Before Obamacare we had Medicaid
    We had CHIP
    We had Medicare
    We had the VHA

    How is subsidies under Obamacare somehow different?”

    The ones listed above involve direct governmental spending for defined benefits for those who are eligible and who choose to participate in those programs. Some programs (particularly Medicare) include a limited degree of patient spending.

    The “exchange” products require individuals to purchase the product, with subsidies sometimes covering some of that cost. The products are defined by government and must cover gravely evil services such as abortion at no direct cost to the patient. Soon they will likely require “sex change” services and direct euthanasia of adults. They also include quite a few things that, while not so vile, are both wasteful and mandatory, making innovation impossible. The application process to get on the exchange in most instances requires a person to provide more financial information than is found on a typical income tax return. (Surely that information is no more safe than the federal personnel files.) The mandated benefits make the policies unaffordable, both as to premiums and patient responsibility when services are due. The exchange plans also tend to pay providers less than the cost of care – though still better than Medicare and Medicaid. The subsidized exchange plans, though, will push better non-subsidized options out of the market. PPACA (the acronym for the act’s official title) is a bundle of regulatory requirements that push both charitable and smaller commercial entities out of the healthcare business in favor of the large politically-connected entities that put things in it before it passed.

    Days like today make me glad that my health is such that I’m likely to die before the end of the decade.

  32. JuliB says:

    I haven’t read all the replies yet, but need to reply to Elizabeth D. I’m sorry, but you are incorrect. The express words MATCH EXACTLY the intent of the law. Or so said the primary person who drafted it, and he said it many times. This was not an inadvertent mistake.
    Yes, there are other awful laws and rulings, but this ruling seems to vacate the idea that what is expressly said in the law has any meaning. I weep for my country. If, over the years, I hadn’t switched from thinking of myself as American first, Catholic second to Catholic first, I would be in a state of despair.

  33. Dennis Martin says:

    The Chief Justice may honestly believe that the proper way to overturn Obamacare is through legislative repeal, that the Court’s role is not to save the people from legislative foolishness.

    But that Chief Justice Roberts now has gone so far as to destroy any remnant of objective meaning of words in legislation (Scalia is 100% correct on this point), in order to make his hobbyhorse “point” is utterly pernicious.

    Moreover, had he simply done what he took an oath to do: interpret the law according to its words rather than find a way to “save” it at all costs (and if Anthony Kennedy had joined him, a huge “if”), the ball would still have been in Congress’s court. WITH The law struck down, Congress would be free to replace it with something better, as Justice Roberts believes the role of Congress should be. Justice Robert’s purpose would have been served–to force a political resolution of the issue, and he would have accomplished that goal without destroying all objective meaning of words in lawmaking.

    Moreover, moreover, had Roberts and Kennedy acted in accord with Truth (the other four justices are hopeless in this regard), undoubtedly the establishment Republicans would have — legislatively — acted to “fix” the law so that it explicitly extended, by statute, subsidies to the Federal exchanges. The Republicans have made it clear that they are on the side of Federal Total Power. So Obamacare would have been rescued in the end and it would have been accomplished by honest legal language.

    Instead, the last hurdle short of Absolute Rule of the Lie has been cleared.

    Scalia is right. Words mean nothing now.

    We were 98% of the way there anyway. I suppose it was quaint to think that the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States might have used words to insist on the meaning of words.

    Either way we end up at the same place. Law is dead. Lawlessness reigns. Not forever, but for longer than any of us can, having known ordered liberty, at this point imagine.

    When I speak of liberty to students in my college classes, they smirk. They believe that only right-wing extremists have this odd thing about “liberty.” Liberty is a “dog whistle” word to them.

    They have been taught that the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were racist and therefore illegitimate documents. They truly believe that the Government is the savior of the oppressed. This includes graduates of 12 years of Catholic schooling as much as those graduated from government schools. No, not all the students, but frighteningly many of them.

  34. JuliB says:

    As a side note, but somewhat appropriate (at least I hope so, Fr.) – Germans no longer think that America stands for freedom anymore. And they took the poll prior to this decision…

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2015/06/25/germans-dont-think-america-stands-for-freedom-anymore/ [Please embed or shorten long links..]

  35. happyCatholic says:

    Thank you for your service, and also thank you for expressing what I am feeling about this disaster.

  36. Quaeror says:

    As a law student myself, I have various and sundry personal reasons and theories for why this decision was correct and the only one that made sense. But none of those matter to me all that much compared to the moral dimension.

    This case had nothing to do with contraception, or abortion, or anything else the Church finds objectionable. A ruling striking down the subsidies would not have exempted the Church from any of the provisions it finds odious or even chipped away at them at all. It would only have hurt people–real people, and the most vulnerable among us: those who are too poor to afford insurance on their own.

    I am frustrated by conservative Catholics who substitute their politics for their compassion and forget that the Church supported almost all of this law (until the president refused to accommodate them on contraception)–and for very good reason. Any honest Christian must consider healthcare a human right, not a privilege, and a law that expands access to it is a very good thing. Tens of millions of people now either have insurance for the first time or can afford better insurance than they have ever had. That is a moral good.

    If anyone wants to debate the legality of it, I’d be happy to do so. But to imagine that Catholics should have been rooting for the Court to strip away the subsidies that allow the poor of this country to subsist in the healthcare arena is tremendously disappointing to me. It’s rank partisan politics, and it’s a shame.

  37. Mike says:

    If anyone wants to debate the legality of it, I’d be happy to do so.

    There is nothing to debate. If state can mean anything, it means nothing.

    What is debatable is your emotion-laden argument in favor of outsourcing of the corporal works of mercy to the state, an outcome for which the American hierarchy has been thumping the tub with increasing shrillness and variant levels of honesty for over a century. Such a debate could, at profit to our souls, thoughtfully and prayerfully consider the degree to which that outcome — and actions and advocacy that advance it — is a violation of subsidiarity and of Christian duty, and as such, objectively evil.

  38. Gerard Plourde says:

    I am a lawyer with 15 years practice. I want to start by recognizing that the vital but separate issues regarding contraception and abortion were not subjects of this litigation. That important caveat stated, I think the ruling ensuring the availability of affordable health care to all U.S. citizens regardless of their independent but subordiante state citizenship was correct. I also believe that the Affordable Care Act fits within our political and economic systems. I offer the following points for consideration:

    1. Regarding the Court’s examination of the legislators’ intent in reaching its conclusion that the law grants accessablilty to a healthcare exchange to all U.S. citizens regardless of state citizenship – As Justice Scalia frequently points out when discussing the Constitution, the intent of the framers of the legislation is critical. Even the most theoretically unambiguous legislation can admit a faulty interpreatation. Therefore it has been standard practice for decades for courts to examine a law’s legislative history to determine its meaning. It was clear from the history presented that the legistlators intended that the benefit of affordable healthcare was to be made available to all citizens of the United States no matter their independent but ultimately subordiante state citizenship. This would be consistent with the language of the Privileges and Immunities clause of the 14th Amendment. Therefore, the reasoning of the majority is based on sound legal principles.

    2. Insuring the existence of a healthy populace through access to affordable is a vital national issue. The resurgence of formerly controlled childhood diseases like measles and whooping cough due to the misguided and scientifically flawed anti-vaccine movement illustrates the need for universal access to medical care.

    3. The previous model of providing health insurance with its exclusions and lifetime limits unfairly shifted the cost of health care to those who had insurance and to taxpayers. Hospitals routinely treated seriously ill uninsured individuals. Not to do so would be morally objectionable. The cost of this care had to be borne by someone. In practice, those costs were amortized by shifting them to insured individuals and to the state. This solution was not just.

    4. The Affordable Care Act encourages individual responsibility. As noted above, indivdual actions have consequences that affect other members of the community. While a person may say that his decision to forego having health insurance is his right, the possibility that he will neglect to seek medical care and potentially place other at risk of infection until his symptoms require action is enhanced if the high cost of treatment is a consideration.

    5. The Affordable Care Act benefits capitalism. The providers of health insurance are, for the most part, for-profit publicly-traded companies. Additionally, the prospect that more individuals will join the pool of insured people has the effect of spreading the cost out equitably with the result of cost stabilization and potentially cost reduction for all insureds and for their employers.

    Finally, we must also be willing to accept that while our founding documents reflect the genius of reason which is highly prized by the Church as the greatest gift, next to faith, of God to humanity, they are not scripture. The Framers themselves recognized this by allowing for amendment of the Constitution. Further, it must be remembered that only one signer of the Declaration of Independence and two members of the Constitutional Convention were Catholics. Therefore the judgment and reason of the majority of the Framers was clouded by heresy and in some cases apostacy. Their work must therefore be subject to analysis to determine whether it conforms to authenitc Catholic teaching and, where it does not conform, it is our duty to seek amendment to bring it into harmony with God’s plan.

  39. ecs says:

    Quaeror –

    What an overtly political rant you have provided while at the same time chiding others for what you deem to be their own political rants. There is no legal justification for this ruling, only a political one. But then that is the problem with most law students today, they see no distinction between law and politics. Might makes right in most legal circles today so long as the right people have the power.

    Obamacare has absolutely zero moral mandate and the fact that the bishops by and large support it is in itself a scandal of historic proportions. Again, Obamacare has nothing to do with healthcare for the poor. It has to do with control over healthcare for everyone. The bill’s own architect has admitted as much and no reasoned reading of the bill itself could lead anyone to believe that this monstrosity was necessary to deliver decent care to the poor.

  40. Quaeror says:

    EDIT: posting again to fix italics issue
    There is nothing to debate. If state can mean anything, it means nothing

    But there is something to debate. In American law, nothing is so black and white. Words do not operate in a vacuum. The Supreme Court is required to apply its own precedents, and its own precedents force it to go to great lengths to preserve an act of Congress. Thus, “state exchange” may in fact not have its simple, straightforward meaning legally: “the meaning—or ambiguity—of certain words or phrases may only become evident when placed in context.” FDA v. Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp., 529 U.S. 120, 132 (2000). The context of this law is that Congress wanted to provide affordable healthcare to every citizen, but some sloppy drafting in a small subsection confused the issue of subsidies and Congress couldn’t fix the syntactical error because Ted Kennedy’s death made reconciliation edits impossible.

    In addition, a word or phrase is not allowed to retain its common-sense meaning if by doing so it would destroy the law that it is part of. The Court must choose the “only one of the permissible meanings produces a substantive effect that is compatible with the rest of the law.” United Sav. Assn. of Tex. v. Timbers of Inwood Forest Associates, Ltd., 484 U.S. 365, 371 (1988). It’s pretty indisputable that the Democratic Congress intended the law to provide subsidies to everyone, not just those in state exchanges. Thus the Court has to find an acceptable meaning for “state exchanges” that doesn’t destroy that purpose.

    Look, you can disagree with the way that American law works, or think it’s stupid and doesn’t respect common sense, or think that old precedents like these are wrong and shouldn’t be followed. But you can’t claim that this outcome is indisputably wrong, because it’s the way our system works. There are well-established and long-standing legal principles about how to interpret statutes. If statutes were all a simple black and white matter of what the common-sense meaning of the words is, there wouldn’t be much need for judges in the way that America thinks of judges.

    I’m going to address your contention that believing in collective responsibility for the poor or in the power of human institutions and governments to alleviate suffering is “evil.” Thousands of years of Catholic teaching refute that, and so does practical history: until the modern era, when governments took an active role, people everywhere starved to death. Private charity is never enough. Even in ancient Rome, starvation persisted until the grain subsidy virtually eliminated death by starvation in the capital. Governments can and should work to help their citizens.

  41. ecs says:

    Gerard –

    Your post is also a political rant. [I sense a “time out” is in the near future.] You being a lawyer for 15 years does not at all show through your post. and your personal political persuasion towards centralized political and economic control by a Godless and untrustworthy federal bureaucracy is simply madness.

    It is interesting how we are engaging in a political debate now in order to justify a legal decision.

    I cannot state it any plainer or better than Scalia.

    And as Professor Charles Rice once wrote years ago, the constitution is dead. It really no longer exists. As someone stated above, we were already 98% there anyway.

  42. Nightcrawler says:

    Fifth choice: The republic is falling so it doesn’t matter

  43. Kerry says:

    Hmm, good thing that this “…to imagine that Catholics should have been rooting for the Court to strip away the subsidies that allow the poor of this country…” wasn’t the issue. The law attempted to force the states to accept Barak-care with the carrot of subsidies for “State established exchanges”. The states told the Feds “There’s the rope, go urinate up it. ” Therefore what Roberts ought to have said is , “In this instance, (neither) the context and (nor the) structure of the act compel us to depart from what…is the most natural reading of the pertinent statutory phrase. The law means what it says, State established exchanges.
    Try pleading, “But that’s not what I meant to happen” to a charge of vehicular manslaughter, and neither the police nor the judges will say, “Oh, you didn’t mean it. WELL, that different.”

  44. PA mom says:

    What was the intention of the drafters? A primary one was to ensure that this behemoth DIDN’T LOOK like socialized national healthcare. And that is why the funding was to be done through state-established exchanges.

    Look how damaged the Democrats came out of Obamacare, losing the Senate, seats in the House, Governorships. They didn’t want to let cat out of the bag and lose everything, including the White House.

    It appears that the long game is to wait for this to collapse and everyone BEGS the federal government to take over.

    Roberts sudden loss of objective reasoning cannot be an accident. Who knows what could be upon the man in these times.

  45. Kerry says:

    “…until the modern era, when governments took an active role, people everywhere starved to death.”
    “I refute it thus!”: Norman Borlaug. (Another parenthetical, you do know the active role Stalin’s government took in the famine in Ukraine?)
    (We presume you recognize the name Norman Borlaug. Do you also know Dr. Johnson?)
    And that “some sloppy drafting in a small subsection confused the issue of subsidies”, so what? Is it the job of the court to correct some sloppy drafting? What about going the other way? Can the court, or anyone, say, “Well, this says only half of such and such, but we know they really meant all, and some political issues prevented them writing it ‘all’, so we’ll just change this, eh?” Ox? Gored?

  46. Quaeror says:

    And that “some sloppy drafting in a small subsection confused the issue of subsidies”, so what? Is it the job of the court to correct some sloppy drafting? What about going the other way? Can the court, or anyone, say, “Well, this says only half of such and such, but we know they really meant all, and some political issues prevented them writing it ‘all’, so we’ll just change this, eh?”

    Yeah, basically. That’s what the Court’s precedents and the canons of statutory construction allow (or compel) it to do.

    Again, we are a precedent, common law-based judicial system. If you want to live in a black and white system where judges do not get to decide what the law means, go live in a civil law country, like France. Here, judges are supposed to interpret and shape the law, not be straight-jacketed by it.

    As for Norman Borlaug, you’re right that he was a wonderful private individual. But his research was co-funded by the Rockefeller Foundation and –gasp– the Mexican Government. When his wheat variety was successful, it was rolled out and supported and spread by the United States Department of Agriculture and the Indian Government. Without those governments, his invention never could have saved so many people.

  47. Michaelus says:

    1. Eliminating Fed. subsidies to States w/o exchanges would not destroy the law nor would it destroy our already insanely expensive health care system.
    2. The law clearly excluded States w/o exchanges from Fed. subsidies.
    3. The exclusion was intended to coerce the States to join this program – it was not a mistake.
    4. The people most in favor of this are the gigantic insurance companies and hospital chains – the real beneficiaries of the subsidies.

    Ergo: accept the fact that we live in a plutocracy.

  48. Quaeror says:

    “[T]he fundamental canon of statutory construction that the words of a statute must be read in their context and with a view to their place in the overall statutory scheme.”–Antonin Scalia (or maybe his saner doppelganger?), Utility Air Regulatory Group v. Environmental Protection Agency, 573 U.S. ___ (2014).

    “[N]o interpretive fault is more common than the failure to follow the whole-text canon, which calls on the judicial interpreter to consider the entire text, in view of its structure and of the physical and logical relation of its many parts.” –Antonin Scalia, Reading Law at 168.

    It’s the way statutory interpretation works in American law. It just is.

  49. MWindsor says:

    @Quearor the Law Student and Gerald Plourde the Lawyer –

    I think you’re both largely missing the point (and Quearor manages to stick his thumb in my eye – and others – at the same time).

    I don’t have a beef with the idea of basic health care as a right. I do have a beef with this particular law being the mechanism by which that right is exercised and the fact that it’s the federal government trying to make the mechanism work.

    A friend of mine tried to convince me to support the ACA when it was new, saying that the VA is an efficient example of government working in the healthcare business. I’ve seen the VA up close and personal, in ways that the sons of privilege who created this law never will, and quite frankly, in ways that you lawyers never will either. To you it’s an abstract, something you see on a news program when things get bad. The government in the healthcare business is the model of inefficiency and recent stories about the VA have born that out. It’s only a matter of time before that happens with SCOTUSCare too. They already can’t account for $3 billion in erroneous payments from Obamacare and $67 million missing from the slush fund.

    Compound that with what the meaning of the word “state”, and I guess you get to the point where one of your own can say under oath that, “It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is.” If “state” doesn’t mean state, then why can’t it mean watermelon? Didn’t Orwell and Doublespeak scare anyone else?

  50. MWindsor says:

    That should have been $67 billion.

  51. Quaeror says:

    State can’t be watermelon because nowhere in the statute supports a definition of watermelon. But three places in the statute define the single word Exchange as a “state exchange,” and the provision that provides for the establishment of federal exchanges says that if a state refuses to establish an Exchange, then the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) “shall . . . establish and operate such Exchange within the State.” (ACA Section 1321). That capital-letter Exchange means that HHS is establishing a state exchange, because that’s how Exchange was defined elsewhere in the law. It’s only one small section where this isn’t consistent.

    And the VA is not abstract to me. It’s the program that has allowed my grandfather to afford his prescriptions and the surgeries that have kept him in a decent quality of life. It’s not perfect, but do you think that abolishing it would make veterans’ lives better? To go from imperfect healthcare assistance to none at all? You might think that without the VA there would be free market programs that would do it better, and that’s defensible. But I have to disagree.

  52. MWindsor says:

    “…do you think that abolishing it would make veterans’ lives better?”

    Not in the least, but it’s not an efficient means to deliver the service and if you’ve experienced the VA then you know that. If we’re going to try for universal healthcare in this country, why do we need to accept something so hopelessly flawed as the primary model? You can argue that the Massachusetts model was really what the drafters were aiming at, but that’s not exactly been nirvana for their citizens either. The drafters jumped into this without even reading the text.

    And I’m sorry, but words are supposed to mean something. I don’t accept your dichotomy between the U.S. and France as being the only distinction available in which words mean something. And I’m sure you understand what I meant about the watermelon in the greater scheme of things.

  53. Chris Garton-Zavesky says:

    I’m puzzled by all of this. I think the ruling was a disastrous one — and though I’ve only read the part of Scalia’s dissent which is published here, I wholeheartedly agree with that part — but not unexpected.

    If I may draw a parallel, of sorts, in 1857 Chief Justice Roger Taney ruled in the Dred Scott case that the law and all available precedent led to the inescapable conclusion that Dred Scott couldn’t bring suit because he didn’t have standing. The country responded by passing three amendments to the Constitution (after the war) because people read and understood Taney’s decision: the constitution didn’t require or allow stuff, so they changed the constitution to correct the fault. What will our country’s response be to this and the (expected) decision on marriage? I don’t know.

    It should be noted, however, that Roberts’ ruling means that legal attempts to correct the problem are, in effect, dead on arrival. Clear words will be read to say something other than they do, and obscure or unclear passages will be read to mean things they manifestly do not mean.

  54. iamlucky13 says:

    Overturning the law on the basis of how the subsidies are managed would be a weak basis at best.

    It should have been overturned on the basis of infringement of private property rights long before any of this came up. Even before we get to the effect of the law on religious liberty and other similar issues, the legal compulsion of private individuals to do business with corporations against their will should have sunk it.

    Of course, after swearing up and down the ACA was not a tax, Obama had no moral qualms about then swearing in testimony that he could compel individuals to do business with corporations against their will because the federal government has tax authority.

    Lastly, it shouldn’t have been passed in the first place, and certain congressmen should have been convicted of official misconduct after publicly admitting they had no intention of doing their job by reading the bill before voting for it so they could “find out what is in it.”

    Think about that for a moment: how much less frivolous legislation there would be in our country if we actually punished legislators for not reading the legislation they vote on.

  55. Dennis Martin says:

    Quaeror the Law Student wrote, apparently trying to hoist Antonin Scalia on his own petard:

    “[T]he fundamental canon of statutory construction that the words of a statute must be read in their context and with a view to their place in the overall statutory scheme.”–Antonin Scalia (or maybe his saner doppelganger?), Utility Air Regulatory Group v. Environmental Protection Agency, 573 U.S. ___ (2014).

    “[N]o interpretive fault is more common than the failure to follow the whole-text canon, which calls on the judicial interpreter to consider the entire text, in view of its structure and of the physical and logical relation of its many parts.” –Antonin Scalia, Reading Law at 168.

    I query Quaeror. Did you read Scalia’s dissent? He makes it devastatingly obvious that reading the contested passage
    of the entire ACA renders the majority’s opinion absurd. As in utterly contemptibly foolish.

    It’s not a debate over whether one reads in context or not. It’s about reading, reading in context. And Scalia’s reading in context is devastating to the majority.

    Now, will will please point out, in Scalia’s dissent, where he has read in context incorrectly??

  56. SKAY says:

    I voted for number one.
    I appreciate Scalia, Thomas and Alito.

  57. happyCatholic says:

    You stated “[t]ens of millions of people now either have insurance for the first time or can afford better insurance than they have ever had. That is a moral good.”

    Is it a moral good that others have lost their health insurance coverage or have been forced onto Medicaid when they had no desire to do so? (There was a story of a woman in the northwest who had been paying for her own insurance, but as a result of Obamacare, was forced onto Medicaid to get coverage, and she was distraught over it. She had always paid her way and did not want any subsidized plan, but ended up having no choice.)

    The last I read of statistics, as many people lost coverage as gained coverage. Furthermore, as to helping the “poor,” my adult children at various times post-college graduation were without jobs, yet managed to pay for their own health insurance or their father and I helped them because that is what families do — help each other, and try not to burden the taxpayer with our own financial issues. We had children who should have qualified for coverage for up to age 26 (which was a ridiculous carrot to get the middle class to buy into this monstrosity) but were ineligible because my husband had to go on disability for stage 4 cancer. Still, we helped and guided our children to find policies they could afford without taxpayer subsidy. That is a how a nation stays strong — not by looking for the government to solve every problem. At various times in life, my husband and I or our children could have gone on government assistance, but didn’t even dream of it. I have a dear Catholic friend who has lived at the poverty line for many years but refused to get on the government gravy train because of the negative example it would have set for her children.

    And, from our experience and those I read of, costs of policies have skyrocketed and the deductibles are so high that a family spends close to $10,000 out of pocket before insurance kicks in at all. You call that affordable?

    So, yes, people having access to health insurance but more specifically actual health care is a moral good. However, I am perfectly within my right as a Catholic to vehemently contend Obamacare was not the vehicle to achieve this goal.

  58. Bosco says:

    I would suppose that if, as the admirable jurist Justice Scalia concluded:

    “Words no longer have meaning if an Exchange that is not established by a State is ‘established by the State…”

    then Supreme Court decisions (which consist of words) have no meaning either and can be summarily disregarded.

  59. WYMiriam says:

    I’m writing this before reading all the comments, so I beg pardon if I cover the same arguments that others have posted.

    I voted for “the ruling is ridiculous” for several specific reasons, the following being the most important and obvious:

    1. The Constitution of the united States gives neither power nor authority to either Congress or the chief executive to meddle in do anything at all with medical care, access to it, or payment for it.

    2. “Obamacare” was touted as being a vehicle for protecting or providing access to health care. What it was really about was ruining ummm. . . . strangling ummm. . . . well, yes, ruining . . . the medical insurance business.

    3. Thus, “Obamacare” was totally, completely, utterly, undeniably unconstitutional from beginning to end, and any Supreme Court ruling upholding it is . . . . also unconstitutional.

  60. Jenson71 says:

    I wouldn’t say I’m “delighted,” but I think the decision was correct. The commentators who disagree with the majority opinion in this discussion seem to be slightly hysterical, as if the majority opinion is not just disagreeable, but unreasonable, even absurd, and represents the end of America and freedom as we know it. [It only gives vast new power to the IRS, affects a huge percentage of the GDP, and constrains millions of citizens. Why would anyone worry about that?] Now, maybe it is the end of America and freedom as we know it (I’m skeptical of that, however, to say the least), but I’ve read Roberts’ majority opinion, and it’s not unreasonable. It’s hard to take a critic of that persuasion seriously. [I warmly disagree. Read the dissenting opinion too!]

  61. Jenson71 says:

    2. “Obamacare” was touted as being a vehicle for protecting or providing access to health care. What it was really about was ruining ummm. . . . strangling ummm. . . . well, yes, ruining . . . the medical insurance business.

    I don’t think that’s true, and neither does the medical insurance industry. In fact, America’s Health Insurance Plans (which represents over 1,000 insurers) wrote an amicus brief in support of the ACA and its subsidies in King v. Burwell. You can read it here: http://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/publications/supreme_court_preview/BriefsV5/14-114_amicus_resp_ahip.authcheckdam.pdf

    [I don’t like long links. Learn to embed, please.]

  62. EVERYONE: Give yourselves a treat. Read the dissenting opinion by Justice Scalia (joined by Thomas and Alito).

  63. Jenson71 says:

    What’s the new vast power the IRS has now?

  64. Jenson71 says:

    Father, I prefer longer links. Thanks, though.

  65. Quaeror says:

    I’ve read Scalia’s opinion. It’s delightfully clever in its use of language and a very enjoyable read (stylish, thy name is Scalia!, etc.), but also pretty disingenuous. Ignoring his own previous admiration for canons of statutory interpretation is bad enough, but he constantly harps on the fact that the subsides apply only to “Exchanges established by the state” without ever admitting to the fact that the federal Exchanges are defined multiple times in the statute as “such Exchanges” directly equivalent to the “Exchanges established by the state” and thus intended to share in their requirements and benefits. If you agree to look at the law as a cohesive whole, that is.

    Anyway, it is late. I’ve tried to live up to my name and respond to what I am asked, but that’s all for now. Perhaps I will have time to return tomorrow, but for now, noctem quietam, et finem perfectum concedat nobis Dominus omnipotens.

  66. David Collins says:

    I don’t, (or rather didn’t), know anything about the case or decision, but, having read all the comments, Michaelus’ syllogism sums it up best. We are living in a plutocracy. Over at his blog at Chroniclesmagazine, Scott Richert points out that , just as Big Pharma benefited from W’s Medicare prescription coverage expansion, so Big Insurance benefits from Republican-appointed justices saving the PPACA.

  67. David Collins says:

    Oops! Also meant to say that I love the VA. Maybe the Louisville VAMC is unusual but I have had great care there since 1996.

  68. Kerry says:

    What WYMiriam said.
    The Fedgov has no more authority over medicine than over light bulbs, or the overflow of water from the pan in which my ducks splash about . (Although I do think the appalling overreach of this particular current unpleasantness is offset by all the racial healing of the Obama regime.)
    ” The conviction that man is self-sufficient and can successfully eliminate the evil present in history by his own action alone has led him to confuse happiness and salvation with immanent forms of material prosperity and social action.” -the Pope emeritus

  69. Kerry says:

    Kwa error, if my reaction to your writing is at all shared by others, I think the use of emotional language as descriptives hurts your arguments.
    Oh, sorry, Quaeror.

  70. Kerry says:

    Part way into the dissent, I hear the Reverend Know it All, talking with a Presbyterian minister about Calvinistic double predestination: “A person can know absolutely they are saved, but it can be a false knowledge?”
    “That’s right”.
    Yosarrian whistled, “That some catch”.

  71. PA mom says:

    The dissent IS an entertaining read.

    (“impossible possibility! Thy name is an opinion on the Affordable Healthcare Act!”)

    I dissent from those who claim that we now live in a plutocracy. Rather, it is the assent and cooperation of the bureaucracy in the deliberate misapplication of the law which has allowed for this. The bureaucracy of the federal government AGREED with the desired goal of those charged with directing the implementation, therefore they were willing to disregard THE ACTUAL WORDS OF THE LAW resulting in a total effect of “might equals right”.

    Would that happen for just anyone who had a desired effect which differed from the written law? I think not. It is the politicization of the Federal bureaucracy through unionization which has allowed such an organized effort. There SHOULD have been sufficient numbers of Federal employees who would insist on following the law as written, but as we see so often now, those who assist in the Democratic Party goals get the loot and those who make an effort to resist get the suspensions.

    The bureaucracy has all of the meaningful power at this point and can use it to assist those it agrees with or to undermine and unempower those it disagrees with.

  72. Dennis Martin says:

    Quaeror wrote that he has read the dissent by Scalia then states:

    “he [Scalia] constantly harps on the fact that the subsides apply only to “Exchanges established by the state” without ever admitting to the fact that the federal Exchanges are defined multiple times in the statute as “such Exchanges” directly equivalent to the “Exchanges established by the state” and thus intended to share in their requirements and benefits. If you agree to look at the law as a cohesive whole, that is.”

    Of course he is “harping” on the main point asserted by the majority. If one is making an argument, one ought to engage the main argument of those with which one disagrees. So to call it harping is, ummm, well, a tad disingenuous.

    Second, “without ever admitting that the federal Exchanges are defined multiple times in the statute as “such Exchanges” directly equivalent to the “Exchanges established by the state”

    Now this is interesting. He harps without ever admitting the main point made by those from whom he is dissenting. What part of “dissenting” doesn’t one get? Of course he never admits the main point of his opponents. He refutes it. He never admits that the statute defines “such Exchanges” as being federal and state exchanges rather than only state exchanges because

    Moreover, he argues, argues carefully, against the majority’s attempt to rest much of their weight on “such”.

    Quaeror’s critique of Scalia boils down to: Scalia disagrees with the majority. The majority is obviously right. Scalia is obviously wrong.

    The sad thing is that were Quaeor to litigate using this sort of argument he might well win a lot of cases in today’s environment.

    Which was Scalia’s point. Most people no longer value or even comprehend how a reasoned argument is made. The entire news media and, increasingly the courts, pre-judge issues and then “refute” by appealing to the “obvious” wrongness of the opposing side.

    For the person in this combox who said that some of us are hysterical in speaking of the end of language and the death of law, well, it seems to me Quaeror’s “refutation” of Scalia illustrates Scalia’s point. Words now can mean anything. We have lost the ability in public discourse to conduct reasoned argumentation.

  73. Dennis Martin says:

    PA mom, yes, you are correct to assert that the bureaucracy has all the meaningful power now. But that situation has come about because Congress abdicated its constitutional authority and power by not pushing back against overreach by the executive (the bureaucracy is simply the hands and feet of the executive branch). Failure to impeach (Clinton) and failure even to attempt to impeach (Obama) has led to the rout of the Congress.

    In part that happened because the opposition in Congress found it increasingly impossible to get its message through, to convince the chattering class of the public that impeachment was necessary to preserve constitutional government. Forty years ago the mere threat of impeachment was enough to rein in the executive. Today the threat of impeachment is hollow and meaningless in the eyes of most and thus not only does the legislature not employ the threat of impeachment, the legislature assures the Executive in advance that it will never impeach.

    At that point, the game is over. The rout began during the New Deal when the courts in a few instances, merely rapped the Executive’s knuckles but the rout began especially after the war when, by and large the Legislative failed to use the legislative means available (far short of impeachment) to push back against both Executive and Judicial overreach.

    It is what it is. The Republic is gone. Mark Levin’s Article V state conventions would be a constitutional remedy bypassing the castrated Congress, but because the chattering Elites and Twittered Teens (teenagers in mentality even though 30 or 40 years old biologically) no longer have a clue about how the Constitution is authoritative, state conventions under Article V would be laughed out of (the) court (of public opinion). It would not hurt to attempt them, nonetheless.

    Levin is correct in his analysis that Congress is now out of the picture. Congress no longer actually writes legislation, it merely writes fill-in-the-blank authorizations for the Executive Bureaucracy.

    The Constitution is no longer authoritative. Those who respect it and the rule of law are a minority now. You cannot have a Constitutional Republic without a Constitution. And a Constitution on paper without respect and obedience is no Constitution.

    Call me hysterical, folks,, if it makes you feel better. And get back to me in 20 years to compare notes about which analysis was more hard-headed. If I haven’t been “disappeared.”

  74. MWindsor says:

    @David Collins – I’ve heard there are some good places. But most of the people I know that go to the VA do so because they have no other choice.

  75. MWindsor says:

    @Dennis Martin – Well said on all points. But I think there is one provision to consider.

    “It is what it is. The Republic is gone.”

    I don’t accept that quite yet. I think there will be a moment in the not too distant future – before the end of the year – when we will be faced with a crisis that will make September 11, 2001 look like going to daily Mass in your average suburban parish. Maybe it’s a comprehensive ISIS attack, maybe an attack on the power grid, economic and monetary collapse, whatever. At that point, people will turn to the government to save them. That’s the last moment to save the Republic. The government will have the upper hand, of course, the that last opportunity to save the Constitution will be in our hands then as the two sides will be starkly exposed in the light of the emergency. I am not hopeful of the outcome, but I do think there is one last chance.

  76. Dennis Martin says:

    Correction: Clinton was impeached but not convicted. One might argue that impeaching him was rash and led to devaluation of impeachment in public opinion. But the failure to convict was influenced, we now know, by blackmail and by public opinion about perjury being no big deal. So the loss of that constitutional remedy rests on an underlying cultural shift toward abandonment of respect for rule of law.

    Impeachment is not the only tool and Congress has abdicated the power of the purse as well, again, because of public opinion (the “shutting down government” mantra), pioneered by Clinton in 1995.

  77. Dennis Martin says:

    MWindsor. Such a crisis, if it were to be the opportunity for saving the Republic, would require a populace that respects rule of law, meaning of words, understands what the Republic was, how its Constitution was to function.

    None of those prerequisites exist any more. You see a great crisis such as you describe was an opportunity to save the Republic. It will be seen by the Power Elites as the final opportunity to cement the trends of the past 50 or 100 years. They will move swiftly, supported by the Chattering Classes and Media.

    What gives you a glimmer of optimism, sadly, gives me none. Theological hope, yes, optimism, none. None whatsoever.

    A Constitutional Republic is only one of several ways of organizing the polity. Christians can live under monarchy (despotic or some shade of “benevolent”), oligarchy, plutocracy, theocracy. Some of these are innately superior to others, all of them will be better or worse depending on the morality of those in charge and, in the case of the designed constitution, the practical political wisdom of the designers. None of them (including a constitutional republic) is free from the terrible ravages of sin. Even the best-designed of the designed ones can only survive if carried out by an at least somewhat virtuous people. As virtue wanes, any form of government will become despotic.

    Our culture is now vicious; what virtue its citizens once manifested, is increasingly marginalized. That’s what dooms us. As a culture, we have no longer the virtue to respond to a great crisis virtuously. Individuals and groups of individuals will do and must do their best. But I do not think enough wisdom and virtue remains in this culture to navigate well the crisis you describe.

  78. MWindsor says:

    @Quaeror & Jensen71 – Look up the lifecycle or democracies.

    “A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship.

    “The average age of the world’s greatest civilisations from the beginning of history has been about 200 years. During those 200 years, these nations always progressed through the following sequence: From bondage to spiritual faith; From spiritual faith to great courage; From courage to liberty; From liberty to abundance; From abundance to selfishness; From selfishness to complacency; From complacency to apathy; From apathy to dependence; From dependence back into bondage.” – Alexander Fraser Tytler

    Some of us have walked different paths on this earth, and for longer times than others.

    Quaeror – your first comment said that conservative Catholics substitute politics for faith. That’s simply not true. We see a stronger country as a better safeguard of the common good, than one leaning between apathy and dependence. If our economy were stronger, we’d be able to afford more things for the common good than we can with $4 quadrillion dollars of derivatives hanging over our collective heads…things like that. Is this country perfect? No. Could it be better? Absolutely. But it’s really the only one we have handy at the moment, so we’d best take care of it while it’s ours to defend.

    Jensen71 – I have to admit that I take you for a troll, but in the hopes that you’re not – what you see as hysteria is actually anger; righteous indignation, if you prefer. Some of us have sacrificed more than others, and wasted sacrifice is a desperately sad thing. I hear a lot of that from people I know these days. And I hope for better for my daughters than what your version of this country seems to inspire.

  79. KateD says:

    pfthtfffthepbt! (<–spittle-flecked nutty)

    Can we just fast forward to the Perusia NOW, pleeeeeeease! We're ready!

    In the mean time I'm going to confession, (while it remains accessible).

  80. AnnTherese says:

    I don’t like that abortion and contraception are included. I appreciate that many poor are being helped. Personally, I am grateful– because of Obamacare I can get some decent health insurance (I work in ministry, btw)– without it I cannot afford it.

    I don’t like that my taxes help pay for war and executions and guns-for-everyone. But the taxes I pay also fund useful programs, such as those that assist the elderly and poor.

    Reality: Being American, regardless of one’s political stance, involves paying taxes which fund good and evil, justice and injustice, hope and despair.

  81. jhayes says:

    Kerry, the Oath Thomas More refused to sign did not mention marriage. It declared that the King, and not the Pope, was the supreme head of the Church in England.

    I (state your name) do utterly testifie and declare in my Conscience, that the Kings Highnesse is the onely Supreame Governour of this Realme, and all other his Highnesse Dominions and Countries, as well in all Spirituall or Ecclesiasticall things or causes, as Temporall: And that no forraine Prince, Person, Prelate, State or Potentate, hath or ought to have any Jurisdiction, Power, Superiorities, Preeminence or Authority Ecclesiasticall or Spirituall within this Realme. And therefore, I do utterly renounce and forsake all Jurisdictions, Powers, Superiorities, or Authorities; and do promise that from henchforth I shall beare faith and true Allegiance to the Kings Highnesse, his Heires and lawfull Successors: and to my power shall assist and defend all Jurisdictions, Priviledges, Preheminences and Authorities granted or belonging to the Kings Highnesse, his Heires and Successors or united and annexed to the Imperial Crowne of the Realme: so helpe me God: and by the Contents of this Booke.

  82. cl00bie says:

    I can’t answer a simple poll question regarding this. The court decided wrongly on this. They ignored the clear wording on the law, and supported what they considered the “intent”. This is a horribly slippery slope, where justices can change laws deciding what they “thought they meant” or even not worrying about it and changing them however they like.

    By the same token, Roberts and the liberals saved the Republicans, and possibly made it easier for full repeal in 2017. Had they decided against the administration, the Republicans would have had to “do something”. And with their lack of testicular fortitude, it would not be sending full repeal and replace to the president’s desk. It would have been maintaining some form of subsidies which would put the Republicans’ fingers all over the law. Currently it is a wholly Democratic monstrosity and Republicans can still disavow any blame for the problems it is causing.

  83. WYMiriam says:

    Jenson71 asked “What’s the new vast power the IRS has now?”

    Perhaps you did not fill out a tax form this year; perhaps you didn’t need to file, or perhaps someone else filled it out for you and all you did was sign it. There’s nothing to be ashamed of if one or the other scenario played out at your house — nothing. So I do not blame you if you did not hear about or see on the tax form itself that one little question with the two teensy boxes next to it. I refer to the unconstitutionally intrusive question about whether or not the taxpayer has health insurance.

    The vast new power the IRS has is simply this: they were given the power to knock on my door and (a) hit me with a huge fine that I am unable to pay for NOT having health insurance (I may be richer than a large part of the planet’s population, but it’s a struggle to keep my head above water at below-poverty level) or (b) try to arrest me and send me to jail for NOT paying the fine. But that power doesn’t stop at my door — the IRS can knock on your door, and on the doors of every single house in the good ol’ united States of America for the purpose of making sure that the citizens have kowtowed to the overweening demands of Obamacare, and make them pay through the nose if they haven’t.

    The county sheriff where I live is reputedly willing to stand between me and the IRS — that’s his job — but I am not sure I trust him to actually do it when or if it’s needed. The IRS is just about as friendly as the KGB.

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