Supreme Court Health Care Decision Divides The States

Fascinating complexity in the decision written by Chief Justice John Roberts upholding the Affordable Care Act!

English: President George W. Bush announces fr...

President George W. Bush, a Republican, announces his nomination of John Roberts to be Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

First of all, Justice Roberts, a conservative Republican appointee, voted with the High Court’s “liberal” justices to create the 5-4 majority upholding the law. Republicans and conservatives across the U.S. hysterically called him a “traitor.”  Wait. Isn’t a patriot’s first loyalty to the United States of America, not to any political party?

The frightening possibility is that some partisans no longer see loyalty to the U.S. as a patriot’s first loyalty. It’s possible that some of the more extreme Tea Party loyalists have already seceded from the United States in their own troubled minds.

Second, Justice Roberts stuck by his conservative principles, agreeing with conservatives that the “universal mandate” to buy health insurance or pay a “penalty” tax does not pass muster with the Constitution’s commerce clause. Instead, he reasoned that the universal mandate provision does pass muster under the Constitutional taxing power granted to Congress.

English: Barack Obama signing the Patient Prot...

President Barack Obama, a Democrat, signs the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act into law. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Most shocking is that Justice Roberts went out of his way to look for and find a reason to uphold the Affordable Care Act. In this age of obstructionist partisanship, the quaint notion of cooperation, of making an effort to do the right thing — irrespective of partisanship — is anathema to those who prefer hostility and oppose domestic tranquility. Hostility allows some to pursue their own narrow interests and ignore the greater good. Hostility is a business opportunity for war profiteers. A condition of  tranquility leaves little opportunity for the unscrupulous to take advantage at the expense of the general good.

Perhaps it is that reliance on the taxing power that touched a raw nerve among the anarchist element of the right. The mention of the word “tax” in any form has turned into a battle cry among those who see taxation as fundamentally evil. The bedrock principle of the American right has become reduction or elimination of taxes. No exceptions. Period. End of discussion.

As another Supreme Court justice once noted, “Taxation is the price we pay for civilization.”

It is not much of a leap of logic to say that rejection of taxation calls into question the legitimacy of government. The odd thing is that those who oppose taxation seem to believe that civilization is possible without government.

Even more complex is the High Court’s decision to nullify one small part of the Affordable Care Act, the requirement for states to accept Federal assistance to expand Medicaid coverage. This is the key that would extend health insurance coverage to nearly every American, including those not affluent enough to buy their own coverage.

More than half the states appear ready to reject Medicaid expansion. A stark division of the states into two camps is possible. In the 19th century, we had the slave states and free states, which developed into the Confederacy vs. the Union.

In the 21st century, the states are on the verge of dividing into universal health care states, and anti-health care states. The consequences of such a devision are horrible to contemplate.

— John Hayden

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