Since the Supreme Court ruled Obamacare was Constitutional under Congress? broad taxing authority, I struggled to understand how Roberts in particular could deem it allowed to tax someone for failing to do something (in this case buy insurance but it could also being applied to failing to exercise or buy broccoli). It just seemed to be contrary to much of what I thought Roberts stood for. So, when I think something doesn?t make sense, I usually say there is something I don?t know and try to find out what I?m missing.
So, what am I missing? As I reflected last night, something dawned on me. It is Robert?s formation as a person. Formation affects everybody- in what we do and don?t do, what we think and don?t think. I?ve heard it said the word most used in the Constitution is ?person.? I don?t know if it is true explicitly as I haven?t counted but it certainly is true implicitly.
And, if I?m right (I certainly could be wrong and I?m sure there is going to be a lot of psychoanalysis of Robert?s mind over the next few weeks), liberals may want hesitate in their praise Roberts. They might like this outcome but they might want to take pause because the Commerce Clause and Medicaid portion will greatly affect going forward the power of the Federal Government. For the same reasons, conservatives should temper their reaction.
I think it will explain his vote on Citizen?s vs. United which gave the right of corporations to make political contributions and his vote on the Arizona immigration law, it will explain his future vote on the religious liberty of religious entities not to cooperate directly or indirectly with contraception. In short, it will affect everything.
I apologize for the length. I tried to figure out how to upload a Word document you could link to but couldn’t. So, with that, here goes.
John Roberts is a Catholic. I don?t know if he is an orthodox, practicing Catholic, one who goes to Church (often or seldom) but has a permissive view of what teachings he must hold, one who has a weak faith or one with no faith at all.
On the left, I see it Larry Kurtz (known here at SDWC as IP) who I suspect was raised
Catholic but has no faith, Bill Fleming (who I pray gets reconciled with the Church), and Nick Nemec who is practicing. On the right, I see it Sibby who has left the Church, I see it in ?Aldo? who posts more often at Madville and on Mt. Blogmore, and I of course see it my
Before I go on, I want to stress this is not a comment on religion being imposed on others. Kurtz has no desire to force Catholicism on anyone anymore than I do. This is a statement on how formation affects a person. And the effect of Robert?s Catholicism on his formation is no less legitimate than one formed in an atheist home. It is what it is. And, in America every person gets to bring his/her whole self to the public square. I?m just trying to shed light on Robert?s mind and how he could tax a person for failing to do something (vs. all other taxes are paid on something one does directly) and also why he ruled as he did on the Commerce Clause and Medicaid mandate on the states.
So what is this common thread that crosses political ideology and even to the degree they
practice their faith? By the way, if what I about to say offends my non-Catholic Christians, I don?t mean to. I?m trying to explain how Catholic?s see things. Nothing is meant to imply you may not have the same view.
First, you find it in the words of the general confession of sins said at Mass where it says: ?I have greatly sinned, in my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done and in what I have failed to do, through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault.?
Notice the ?what I have failed to do.? Catholics soon learn by what is explicitly said and what is implied, failing to do good is just as sinful as doing something bad, and sometimes worse. In fact, anyone who has gone to Confession will know often the Priest will focus less on the penitent?s confession of ?yelling at my wife? and more at the lack of action of loving your wife. Or, a confession one used the company credit card to fill up the tank of gas (stealing) may get less focus than the reality one isn?t giving a fair and honest effort at work every day in exchange for their pay check.
It is this perspective that could have led Roberts to find failing to act (buy insurance) as actually an act, and thus legitimate to tax. Larry Kurtz might get this. His most critical and usually poignant posts aren?t when he is commenting on something someone did but on the failure to do something.
Second, understanding of the Catholic concept of the ?Body of Christ.? One doesn?t have to believe in Christ to get this concept and I?m not talking about the Eucharist or depending on a super-natural connection of all persons joined mystically to each other by being made in the Image of God.
Catholics do not accept there are ever ?victimless? sins or crimes. Nothing a person does even in the privacy of their own home doesn?t have an effect on the greater whole. At the same time, it allows one to see how the collective group of persons (a corporation) to have free speech rights to be as worthy of protection as the speech of individuals (ala Citizen?s vs. United). For me to explain this and make sense, I?d have to right at least a chapter.
What I?d like to you just get in your mind is the idea is limiting the rights of a collection of individuals also limits the rights of individuals.
Third, understanding of the Catholic concept of God?s permissive will. While God doesn?t desire us to do evil, he allows it out of love and respect for our free will. For instance, while He never desired a drug abuser to use drugs, God can use the past sin to do good when the person becomes a drug-abuse counselor. When you read the end of Robert?s ruling, you can see clearly he finds Obamacare bad policy. But out of respect to the democratic process, he doesn?t see his job to stop Congress and the President from doing harm (ala using drugs). Since he sees Congress? authority to tax as broad, had a broad understanding of what is taxable (do and fail to do), he deemed he must strictly interpret the Constitution and allow even what he deems harmful.
Fourth (and final only for the sake of brevity as I could go on), understanding the Catholic concept of subsidiarity. Subsidiarity is an organizing stating that matters ought to be handled by the smallest, lowest, or least centralized competent authority. If the family is capable of dealing with the problem, government has no role. If
state government can handle it, the federal government should stand back.
I think this influenced the Medicaid decision, leaving it to the States to determine who is eligible for social aid, how to pay for it, and who pays for it as well as the narrowing of the power of the Commerce Clause.
FINAL COMMENT: Don?t get me wrong. I do not agree with this ruling. I believe Robert?s application of ?failed to do? is a step too far under our Constitution. While wholly consistent with private behavior, I do not think it applies to government authority to tax a failure to act, no matter how good the intentions (provide health insurance to all). While I also disagree with a single-payer health insurance policy, I believe it is more respectful of the Constitutional concepts of individual liberty while taxing it violates individual liberty.
At the same time, if I got into Robert?s head, while this conservative and all conservatives abhor this decision, I think we will applaud while liberals lament the precedent on the Medicaid provision and Commerce Clause.
There is a saying: ?Be careful what you wish for.? If this ruling leads to Obama?s defeat and the repeal of Obamacare, as a result of this ruling, America will have a significantly weaker federal government less able to regulate and socially engineer society. And, the people will have effectively overturned this ill-advised legislation and policy.