Yet another court has sided with the Obama administration, ruling the Affordable Care Act constitutional. This time it was the United States Court of Appeals for the D. C. Circuit with harsh words for those opposing the law coming from conservative icon and ally of Justice Clarence Thomas Laurence Silberman.
Previous to this decision Silberman was most noted for authoring the decision that overturned the District of Columbia’s handgun ban. Silberman, and fellow conservative Brett Kavanaugh, rejected the challenge as “utterly meritless” on two separate, but equally compelling grounds.
Judge Kavanaugh dismissed the challenge on the grounds that the court had no jurisdiction to hear the case while Judge Silberman authored a blistering opinion that should put to bed any idea that opponents of the law have a constitutional leg to stand on. Judge Silberman noted that the challengers could not find any support for their position in either the Constitution or Supreme Court precedent. From the opinion:
That a direct requirement for most Americans to purchase any product or service seems an intrusive exercise of legislative power surely explains why Congress has not used this authority before–but that seems to us a political judgment rather than a recognition of constitutional limitations. It certainly is an encroachment on individual liberty, but it is no more so than a command that restaurants or hotels are obliged to serve all customers regardless of race, that gravely ill individuals cannot use a substance their doctors described as the only effective palliative for excruciating pain, or that a farmer cannot grow enough wheat to support his own family. The right to be free from federal regulation is not absolute, and yields to the imperative that Congress be free to forge national solutions to national problems, no matter how local–or seemingly passive–their individual origins.
What is deceptively brilliant about Silberman’s opinion is that it returns common sense to a conservative read of the Constitution and to the understanding of the interplay between individual liberty and the necessary functions of governments. That today’s conservative movement won’t be able to see that, or are politically unable to concede such a point, shows just how intellectually bankrupt the movement has become.
Photo from steakpinball via flickr.