February 1 2011
Yes, Nancy, There Is a Constitution...
There are many reasons to be happy about Federal District Judge Roger Vinson's ruling that Obamacare is unconstitutional. One is that it looks like a portent that judges are getting back to relying on the U.S. Constitution instead of their own predilictions to make rulings.
Obamacare supporters have sought to score rhetorical points by hailing Vinson's ruling as "judicial activism." It is anything but--judicial activism occurs when a judge makes a decision he feels virtuous but which requires fancy footwork to derive from the Constitution. Nothing could be further from this case, which the Wall Street Journal calls "the constitutional moment":
Federal Judge Roger Vinson opens his decision declaring ObamaCare unconstitutional with that citation from Federalist No. 51, written by James Madison in 1788. His exhaustive and erudite opinion is an important moment for American liberty, and yesterday may well stand as the moment the political branches were obliged to return to the government of limited and enumerated powers that the framers envisioned.
As Judge Vinson took pains to emphasize, the case is not really about health care at all, or the wisdom-we would argue the destructiveness-of the newest entitlement. Rather, the Florida case goes to the core of the architecture of the American system, and whether there are any remaining limits on federal control. Judge Vinson's 78-page ruling in favor of 26 states and the National Federation of Independent Business, among others, is by far the best legal vindication to date of Constitutional principles that form the outer boundaries of federal power.
I referred you to Health Care Lawsuits yesterday, and it deserves another plug because my colleague Hadley Heath has responses to the ruling that focus on that dry old document known as the Constitution. Betsy McCaughey did a great job of getting to the heart of the ruling in a more colloquial manner:
Fourteen months ago, a reporter asked then-SpeakerNancy Pelosi if the Constitution allows the federal government to force people to have health insurance. Amazed, she answered, "Are you serious?"