If the United States Congress has no time to read the bills upon which it actually votes, I guess one can understand they have no time to read judicial decisions, either. Unfortunately, being too busy to educate oneself does not stop the uneducated from commenting on cases, often with very strongly held and completely uninformed opinions.
I just heard an elected member of the United States Congress 1 on the radio decry the recent federal District Court decision by Judge Reed O’Connor, out of the Northern District of Texas, that says Obamacare is unconstituional. I will bet a bazillion dollars she had not even glanced at the case itself, much less the written opinion of Judge O’Connor.
She indignantly declared that since conservative United States Chief Justice John Roberts upheld Obamacare, there is no way that the new district court level decision is anything but preposperous.
If she had taken a second, or if she was concerned with how courts work at all, or had the slightest curiosity about our government structure, she might have saved herself some embarassment. 2
Indeed, Roberts and four other United States Supreme Court Justices upheld “Obamacare” in the case NFIB v. Sebelius. (I will put up the same bazillion dollars she did not know the name of that case, either, much less gave it a cursory glance.) The Supreme Court specifically rejected the Obama administration’s argument that Obamacare was a legitimate use of Congress’ power under the commerce clause, but upheld the program under Congress’ power to tax.
Judge O’Connor applied the NFIB v Sebelius decision in his written opinion. In sum, since the Supreme Court decision, Congress repealed the tax component of Obamacare. Since the rationale behind the constitutionality of the program no longer exists, the program fails.
This may or may not hold up on appeal and it may find its way back before the Supreme Court, but to dismiss it as preoposterous is, well, preposterous.
Also on the radio this morning, the local host said something to the effect that “legal scholars on both sides of the aisle say the decision will likely be overruled.” That’s it. No source for that information. No names of any of the “legal scholars.” Just a bold statement with zero support behind it.
I will be discussing Judge O’Connor’s decision in the next episode of The Law with D.K. Williams. Check it out.