I was quite shocked yesterday at the Supreme Court’s Affordable Care Act ruling. I was even more shocked at the voting composition of the majority.
The Supreme Court politicized itself in the Bush v. Gore ruling. In that case, the Court’s conservatives definitively revealed themselves as unprincipled ideologues. The Court acknowledged directly this with their weak protestation that the ruling would not have standing as precedent in future cases. Nothing that’s happened in the twelve years since has caused me to in the slightest shift my extremely low opinion of the Court’s conservative wing. Citizens United, one of the most deeply misguided and disastrous rulings in modern history, sealed the Roberts Court’s naked partisanship by decapitating both the national interest and common sense in favor of Republican interests. On an individual level, Justice Scalia’s recent crabwalk on the Commerce Clause was just the latest in an endless round of objective proof that I have been right all along about the unprincipled ideology of the Supreme Court conservatives.
In other words, my expectations of the Supreme Court’s ability to produce wise Constitutional jurisprudence in the national interest is rock bottom.
The Affordable Care Act ruling amazed me. I’m not wise enough to know what it will all mean. That will be gamed out in the press and Congress and the election booth over the next months, and likely years.
But I did happen to catch Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s response. The willful ignorance and hypocrisy of his remarks was breathtaking. Mr. Romney said:
As you might imagine, I disagree with the Supreme Court’s decision and I agree with the dissent.
What the court did not do on its last day in session, I will do on my first day if elected president of the United States. And that is I will act to repeal Obamacare.
Let’s make clear that we understand what the court did and did not do.
What the court did today was say that Obamacare does not violate the Constitution. What they did not do was say that Obamacare is good law or that it’s good policy.
Obamacare was bad policy yesterday. It’s bad policy today. Obamacare was bad law yesterday. It’s bad law today.
When Romney was governor of Massachusetts, his signature legislative accomplishment was a healthcare reform act extremely similar to the Federal healthcare reform promoted by President Obama.
Mr. Romney, was HCR bad law when it was your idea? Was HCR bad policy when you implemented it? You were certainly extremely pleased with the individual mandate at the time.
Furthermore, both the Massachusetts law and the Federal law have their roots, specifically including the now-hated individual mandate, in proposals originating with the conservative Heritage Foundation. HCR isn’t socialism as Republicans now decry. It was their idea in the first place. One they used to oppose the Clinton-era attempts at healthcare reform, among other things.
Mr. Romney, was HCR bad law when the Heritage Foundation proposed it and when most Republicans promoted it? Was HCR bad policy when the Heritage Foundation proposed it and when most Republicans promoted it?
Romney went on to say:
Obamacare adds trillions to our deficits and to our national debt, and pushes those obligations on to coming generations. […] Obamacare is a job-killer.
Mr. Romney, do you recall the most recent Republican administration of President George W. Bush? When the Republican controlled House and Senate spent their way to the highest deficits and deepest national debt in the history of the republic. Do you recall the job losses under Republican rule, the deepest and most unprecedented since the Great Depression? Are you aware that your party has spent the past four years blocking any jobs or economic growth plans put forth by President Obama in service of your flatly stated highest legislative priority of making him a one-term president? What on Earth gives you standing to talk about deficits and job losses now? How can you possibly do so with a straight face?
Then he said:
And perhaps most troubling of all, Obamacare puts the federal government between you and your doctor.
Mr. Romney, your Republican party is constantly legislating women’s sexual and reproductive health. You have moved heaven and earth these past decades to insert the Federal government between citizens and their doctors at every possible point.
You and your political colleagues have amply demonstrated time and again that intellectual dishonesty and profound hypocrisy are necessary requirements for being a Republican today, but do you ever think about what you are saying? For even a moment? More to the point, do voters ever think about the typical word salad offered by Republican leaders?
Unfortunately, that last question answers itself every time this nation goes to the polls.
Republicans used to mock something they called Bush Derangement Syndrome. The conservative opposition to President Obama is so deranged, so powerful, that they will deny two decades of their own political history and abandon their own principles and positions rather than do anything that might seem to support or endorse the president.
My final observation is that I’m considering running a pool on how soon there is a Congressional attempt to impeach Chief Justice Roberts. In one stroke, Chief Justice Roberts has transformed himself in conservative eyes from a wise jurist to a judicial activist. In one stroke, he restored a modicum of respectability to a Supreme Court that traded every shred of dignity and respect they had away for an ultimately disastrous electoral victory twelve years ago.