"We don't intend to turn the Republican Party over to the traitors in the battle just ended. We will have no more of those candidates who are pledged to the same goals as our opposition and who seek our support. Turning the party over to the so-called moderates wouldn't make any sense at all." - Ronald Reagan, Nov. 10, 1964

Supreme Court Mulls Not Just Healthcare, but the Role of Government in America

April 3, 2012   ·   By   ·   0 Comments

As an attorney who has argued a number of appellate cases, I can testify that judges’ questions during oral arguments are not necessarily a good predictor of the outcome of a case.  Judges often use oral argument as a sounding board for competing jurisprudential theories and as a vehicle for playing devil’s advocate.  The questions asked don’t necessarily telegraph how the judges are feeling about the case, or the way they will ultimately rule.  Still, the questions posed by the Supreme Court during last week’s argument on the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a “Obamacare,” indicate that the court is pondering not just the future of health care in this country, but also the role of the federal government in the lives of its citizens.

The heart of Obamacare is the so-called individual mandate, which requires that citizens purchase health insurance or pay a penalty.  The goal of the legislation is to induce full participation in the program in order to ensure its fiscal solvency (premiums from young, healthy individuals are necessary to offset the costly medical bills of the sick and elderly) and eliminate “free riders,” (those uninsured individuals whose health care costs are borne by those who do have health insurance).  This approach, we are told, will result in low-cost, high-quality healthcare for all.

Makes sense, right?  Who could possibly object to a program that promises to right the many perceived wrongs of healthcare in America?  Who would argue against securing affordable, accessible health care for the millions upon millions (or so we’re told) of “involuntarily” uninsured Americans?  At first blush the mandate seems like a commonsense, compassionate approach, until you consider the broader legal implications of the government’s actions.

Under Obamacare the federal government is essentially dictating that people buy a product (health insurance) with the justification that “this product is not only good for you, it’s good for everyone else.”   That’s a pretty big step for a limited government of enumerated powers, which is what the federal government is supposed to be.  Where Congress or the President derives the authority to determine the personal economic choices of the American people is unclear.  One certainly doesn’t find it in the text of the Constitution, and this is the rub.  If the court upholds Obamacare, a precedent will be set by which the federal government will be emboldened and empowered  to make laws based on what it decides is in the “best interests” of the American people – eat your veggies, take your vitamins, get your exercise, don’t smoke, don’t drink, drive a hybrid, buy only government-approved energy-efficient light bulbs…  The list goes on and on.  That’s why Justice Kennedy  rightly noted that if Obamacare is upheld, the Court will be sanctioning a fundamental change in the way the federal  government relates to the people.

Of course, advocates of Big Government and disciples of the Nanny State are hoping that’s just exactly what the Court will do.  They want an all-powerful, benevolent Big Brother to tell the unwashed masses what’s good for us and how we should live our lives, and they want this authority backed by the force of law.

All who love liberty – which includes the freedom to make what some might perceive as “poor” choices – should be concerned about the outcome of this case.  It’s about so much more than healthcare; it’s about the role and size of government and the basic right for American citizens to decide how to live their own lives.  It’s also about checks and balances and the meaning of the Constitution.

The Court is expected to rule in June.  How will the justices ultimately decide?  At this point no one knows for sure; however one thing is certain:  This ruling will affect how future generations of Americans perceive what it means to be a “free” citizen in the good ‘old U.S. of A.

Note: Reader comments are reviewed before publishing, and only salient comments that add to the topic will be published. Profanity is absolutely not allowed and will be summarily deleted. Spam, copied statements and other material not comprised of the reader’s own opinion will also be deleted.

Similar Posts:

Attorney Ken Connor is the Chairman of the Center for a Just Society in Washington, DC, and the former President of the Family Research Council. He served as counsel to Governor Jeb Bush in Bush v. Schiavo during the Terri Schiavo case, and is co-author of "Sinful Silence: When Christians Neglect Their Civic Duty."
Ken Connor
View all articles by Ken Connor
Kens website
Print Friendly

If you enjoyed this article, please consider leaving a comment below (subject to the comment guidelines listed at the bottom of the article), sharing it to Facebook or Twitter or another social media site, subscribing to the RSS feed to have future articles delivered to your feed reader, or have a daily digest of the latest American Clarion articles delivered to your email inbox each morning..

Readers Comments (0)

Sorry, comments are closed on this post.

Featured Articles


Personalized Voter Information Online for South Dakota Elections

Bob Ellis

South Dakota Secretary of State Jason Gant announced today that personalized voter information is available online through the Voter Information Portal (V.I.P.) at sdsos.gov. Any person registered to vote in South Dakota can use V.I.P. to access information for upcoming elections including the June 5 Primary Election.


Resistance 44: A Bold New Conservative Initiative

Bob Ellis

Here are some young conservatives who aren't, unlike RINOs and other liberals, embarrassed to be identified with the traditional values that made America the greatest nation of all time. They are Resistance 44. They don't consider themselves "too sophisticated" to be seen embracing the ideals which separate us from every other nation in the world, or opposing those philosophies which would tear down all that we hold dear. This really restores some much-needed confidence for the future of our great republic.


Refusing to Render Unto Caesar That Which is God’s

Ken Connor

The Obama Administration's new birth control mandate is necessary in order to ensure that the Sandra Flukes of America are free to enjoy a consequence-free sex life while simultaneously realizing their dreams of a government-subsidized college and career. What's at stake is nothing less than religious liberty guaranteed by the First Amendment. Whether one agrees with the Catholic position on birth control and abortion or not, the Church's opposition to both is rooted in religious principle, and its right to conduct its programs in accordance with this principle is protected by the First Amendment.


Obama: The King of Chutzpah

Rick Manning

Like failed 1984 Democratic presidential candidate Gary Hart daring reporters to follow him around in response to rumors that he was having an affair, only to have his swinging ways with Donna Rice exposed in tabloids across the nation, Obama has dared people to examine the truth about his fiscal record. So let’s take him up on it.


Obama’s unreal world

Rick Manning

Chairman Doc Hastings’s House Resources Committee released secret audio in which an Obama administration Interior Department official stunningly states, in connection to their rewrite of the 2008 Stream Buffer Rule, “this is not the real world, this is rulemaking” as a justification for not considering actual “conditions on the ground.” “This is not the real world, this is rulemaking” should be the new slogan of Obama’s Committee to Reelect the President.


Other News

Other Commentary

Featured Blogs


"We don't intend to turn the Republican Party over to the traitors in the battle just ended. We will have no more of those candidates who are pledged to the same goals as our opposition and who seek our support. Turning the party over to the so-called moderates wouldn't make any sense at all." - Ronald Reagan, Nov. 10, 1964

Switch to our mobile site

NewMedia blog