Dave Kopel Responds to ObamaCare Decision

From Jon Caldara:

Hey everyone. I know today’s Supreme Court ObamaCare decision is a lot to stomach right now, but I wanted to share with you our Constitutional Law scholar Dave Kopel’s statement on the issue. It should soften the blow considerably.

The Court’s decision against the Medicaid mandate means that Colorado has the right to choose whether or not to drastically expand state spending on Medicaid; Congress cannot coerce Coloradans to do so. The Medicaid mandate decision stops Congress from misusing of its Spending power to violate the 10th Amendment rights of the States; and it is the first time since 1936 that the Court has enforced significant constitutional limits on the Spending power.
The Medicaid mandate would have required Colorado to provide Medicaid to able-bodied childless adults. Simply put, this mandate would have put Colorado on a short path to insolvency.

The Independence Institute is gratified that the Court agreed with both of our amicus briefs, on the Medicaid mandate and on the Necessary and Proper Clause. On the Medicaid mandate, the Court strongly affirmed the fundamental constitutional principle, detailed in our brief, that the States are separate and independent sovereigns. The decision is in line with the Court’s record over the last two decades years in protecting state sovereignty. The Independence Institute has a long record of advocacy in this field; for example, in 1997, II Research Director Dave Kopel and Colorado Attorney General Gale Norton (herself a former Senior Fellow at II), co-authored an amicus brief for eight States in Printz v. United States. There, a 5-4 majority of the Court held that Congress could not order state and local law enforcement officers to carry out federal background checks on handgun buyers.

Today’s decision on the Medicaid mandate was 7-2, with Justices Breyer and Kagan joining the majority. This is one sign of how the Independence Institute’s long-term work is paying off.

The Court also agreed with our amicus brief on the Necessary and Proper Clause. As the research of our Senior Fellow Rob Natelson has explained, the Necessary and Proper Clause confers no additional powers on Congress. The Clause simply restates the general principle that Congress can exercise powers which are merely “incidental” to Congress’s enumerated powers. For example, since the Constitution gives Congress to power to establish the rules of bankruptcy, Congress can enact laws against bankruptcy fraud. The Court’s adoption the originalist interpretation developed by Natelson is the most important decision on the Necessary and Proper Clause since McCulloch v. Maryland in 1819.

Of course we were disappointed that the Supreme Court upheld the individual mandate under a different theory–not that the mandate is a “Necessary and Proper” regulation of interstate commerce, but instead that the mandate is merely a tax.

While the socialists are celebrating the individual mandate that they love and that most Americans loathe, let’s consider the bottom line, according to Lyle Deniston, the most-esteemed and most senior Supreme Court journalist in the United States: “The rejection of the Commerce Clause and Nec. and Proper Clause should be understood as a major blow to Congress’s authority to pass social welfare laws. Using the tax code — especially in the current political environment — to promote social welfare is going to be a very chancy proposition.”

There are more legal challenges coming to other parts of Obamacare. The political challenges are going to continue too, and the Independence Institute is going to remain at the forefront–in the courts, and in the court of public opinion–fighting for the day when there will be no more Obamacare, and for the day when all Americans will truly enjoy patient protection and affordable care.

Read more of Kopel’s thoughts about the decision at the SCOTUSblog: Major limits on the Congress’s powers, in an opinion worthy of John Marshall.

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Filed under mandatory insurance, Medicaid/Medicare/SCHIP

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