The Afforable Care Act: Democracy v. People With Harvard Law Degrees

Barack Obama remains confident that the Affordable Care Act, the pillar legislation of his presidency, will be deemed constitutional in a June ruling by the Supreme Court. His confidence stems from the obvious: the Supreme Court would be egregiously violating its power if it were to overturn legislation passed by a democratically elected congress, when the Supreme Court Justices are appointed by the President in conjunction with Senate consent. President Obama pointed this out, and now everyone is mad. To overturn the Affordable Care Act, the Supreme Court would be imposing unprecedented limitations on Congress' power. As per the Commerce Clause, the Supreme Court would be repudiating settled precedent that limits the role of this unelected court to review, or in this case, reject, legislation enacted by the elected branches of government. By virtue that the Supreme Court is unelected, established precedent rightly holds that the court should very, very rarely exercise the power assumed in Marbury v. Madison (1803) to overturn legislation. This power is not explicitly conferred or withheld by the Constitution; however, the court has shown to review legislation that violates explicit constitutional premises such as the Bill of Rights. Overturning the Affordable Care Act would radically alter the current constitutional relationship between the Supreme Court and the inherently equal, although elected, branches of government. It would prove to be a major expansion in the Supreme Court’s power, perhaps ushering in pre-New Deal era, where the Supreme Court enjoyed unrestricted power to reject Congressional legislation based on the political views of the court itself and the individual beliefs of the Justices. Knowing this, Obama diligently, and rightfully, pointed out that overturning the Affordable Care Act ruling, legislation enacted by the elected representatives of the American people, would be outrageous. To be consistent with the established precedents of constitutional jurisprudence, the court should not, nor should have been given the chance, to put a limit on Congress’ power, given that it does not, nor would not have been created if, it violated any part of the Constitution. So, sincere apologies that you have to pay, along with car insurance, house insurance (are those “unconstitutional” too?), for health insurance. Coming from a country with socialized health care, I’m sorry that you even have to pay for it in the first place. But when your health care system is based on a model where private insurers insure the healthiest people and do not insure the sick ones to ensure profit (Blue Cross and Blue Shield c. 1940s), you could not have been naïve enough, and hopefully not heartless enough, to expect this to go on forever. The 45.7 million Americans who are uninsured will thank you, Mr. President. And as for everyone else, one day you’ll be thankful too. After all, they don’t call them accidents for nothing. And if you never get into an accident, congratulations – you would have spent your life supporting and fostering longer, healthier lives for people who suffer from health problems of any kind, so that they may actively engage in the pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness as long as they shall live. And what’s more American than that?

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