By now, almost everyone in the country knows about the Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling upholding the Obamacare legislation. Thanks to Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.’s swing vote, it is now, for the first time in the history of this nation, constitutional to tax Americans if they refuse to buy health insurance (or, for that matter, refuse to do anything else).
Certainly it is bad enough that the Supreme Court, in its misguided wisdom, has empowered Congress to levy a tax as a way of forcing Americans to purchase a product or a service against their will. But to make matters worse, many Americans mistakenly think this obnoxious decision of the highest court in the land is confined to the purchase of health insurance. Those folks should think again.
Given the expanded taxing power conferred on Congress by the Roberts court, the only remaining limitation of any consequence on Congress’ power to lay and collect taxes under the Constitution is that the tax be for a public purpose, as distinguished from a private purpose. As long as the levy is judicially deemed to be a tax, and as long as that tax is judicially deemed to be for a public purpose, there appears to be no limit as to what a rogue Congress may require Americans to do to avoid being assessed a tax. For example, Congress may require Americans to buy electric cars and long underwear. It may even require Americans who are fortunate enough to own a home to buy energy-efficient windows and solar panels. It may even require Americans to subscribe to the New York Times. Indeed, the court-sanctioned requirement to buy health insurance could be just the tip of an iceberg.
This amounts to the greatest encroachment on our liberties in the history of this nation. Surely, it is inconceivable that our Founding Fathers intended to give such a broad power to Congress. But as matters now stand, the only way to undo what the majority of the Supreme Court has done is to amend the Constitution to limit Congress’ taxing power. Until then, anything goes.
HARRISON E. McCANDLISH