Civil Discourse Now

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Will SCOTUS hand down a decision of the same quality as Dred Scott on the Affordable Healthcare Act?

   Will SCOTUS hand down the decision on the Affordable Healthcare Act today? Inquiring minds want to know.

   I have read a few pieces in which the authors predict the decision could be as bad as Dred Scott.  That decision, at 60 U.S. 393, handed down by the Taney Court in 1857, has been considered by many the worst case handed down by the Supremes. The decision was so bad it shook the Court as an equal to its two counterparts in the system of checks and balances. The decision gutted the Missouri Compromise. Some say the decision caused the Civil War.

   Let us return to the present-day. What qualities would a decision by the Court possess if one were to place it in a class with Dred Scott?

   I would suggest the Court would reach an issue it did not need to reach. Whoops! I described one aspect of the decision in Citizens United. There the issue upon which the Court based its decision was an issue the parties agreed, at the District Court, to set aside. Okay, how about—the Court sets aside on spurious constitutional grounds a contentious Congressional act that concerns an important aspect of society? In Dred Scott Taney wrote that Congress did not have the authority to prohibit slavery in the territories (primarily areas of the American West not yet states). Besides, Taney reasoned, African slaves were not American citizens and therefore lacked standing to sue in American courts. Whoops! That reminded me of other aspects of Citizens United, like the whole bit about corporations possess constitutional rights to free speech.

   The Court will have to go a long way today to meet the standards of "bad" set by the Taney Court in Dred Scott.

   As I wrote in March, during argument on the case that may be handed down in a couple of hours:

"The real answer to the health care crisis is to eliminate private health insurance companies and their executives who receive eight-figure bonuses for managing corporations free from anti-trust laws. Why reward a person for gouging profits from people via monopoly? The monopoly aspect removes any worry about competition. While Congressional debates raged, a couple of years ago, on health care reform, single-payer was left out. That is the only feasible plan.

   In 1994, Republicans in Congress pushed, as medical reform, the same law they now decry and demand the Supreme Court overturn as unconstitutional. Newt Gingrich wanted government-mandated health insurance. Yesterday’s questions from the so-called conservative justices were depressing, not because they were adverse to my views, but because they were so ill-informed.

   There are things that the Federal government can do to improve our lives. Provision of health care to those over 65 has worked quite well since its adoption as Medicare in 1965. Medicare should be extended for all. At the same time, we should take money from the military and invest it in the infrastructure of our country—education, highways, railroads, bridges. Those expenditures, in the long-run, will be far more cost-effective than maintenance of a war machine. Restore income tax rates to their levels during the Clinton years, gut the bush tax cuts, and we might get back to a decent economy.

   President Obama attempted compromise to reach a solution about a matter critical to this country: healthcare. If the Court today strikes down key portions of the Act, the reasons given will be interesting to read.

   Will the decision be as bad as Dred Scott? That is a tough standard of "bad" to meet. Of course, in 2010, the Court handed down Citizens United.

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Comment by Bill Thompson on June 28, 2012 at 10:31am

The decision today was correct IMO (like they asked me, sure !) That crazy right-winger Roberts sided with the majority in supporting Obamacare based on taxation, rather than on the commerce clause.

Comment by Bill Thompson on June 27, 2012 at 1:55pm


  1. The Dred Scott decision merely reflected the law at the time, and the law reflected the societal racism of the day.  People bemoan the decision, when they should bemoan racism.
  2. It would take a powerful totalitarian government to "eliminate private health insurance companies". Why not outlaw car insurance companies - their CEO's are well paid. 
  3. Obama's approach to healthcare was hardly a compromise, as reflected by the votes in Congress.  The law depends on Congress having the power to make people purchase something, based on the Commerce Clause. Congress doesn't have that much power - only the powers it is granted.
  4. Citizens United was decided correctly.  That far-right group, the ACLU, supported the decision.
Comment by Kurt Lorey on June 25, 2012 at 12:47pm
But, on the other hand, according to Mark Rubio, it's OK to segregate people based upon their health and/or financial situation in the anticipated Republican privatization of Health Care?
Privatization usually works out so very well, at least for those politically connected to the "privatizers", at any rate.
It's VERY difficult for me to not curl my lip at those Republicans in Congress trumpeting the benefits of their version of public Health Care considering that they themselves have a benefits plan MUCH sweeter than anything envisioned by "Obamacare". Personally, I think it the height of hypocrisy. And spare me the "they do it for the good of the country" spiel. These Republicans quit doing that when they started their "obstructionism uber alles" pogrom.


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