The Nominal American Constitution

The Origination Clause, sometimes called the Revenue Clause, is part of the United States Constitution. This clause says that all bills for raising revenue must start in the House of Representatives, not the U.S. Senate.

Not interested? Read on anyway.

The Affordable Health Care Act (ACA), popularly known as Obamacare, originated in the U.S. Senate, not the House. Yet the law was upheld by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts in 2012 on the basis that the Obamacare law was not a mandate, but a tax.

The Obama Administration and other supporters of the law didn’t necessarily agree. They correctly view the law as a mandate, and have no problem with this, because mandating is what they do. But the Supreme Court, if it was to uphold the law, had to find some justification for supporting a law forcing people to buy a product or service against their will. For reasons we will probably never know, the supposedly conservative Chief Justice Roberts came up with a last minute rationalization: The law is just a tax.

Well, lies eventually catch up with liars. So Obama and John Roberts take note: Your lie may be about to catch up with you.

Rodrigo Sermeno, writing in [5-31-14] reports the following:

“Sissel v. United States Department of Health and Human Services” was filed in the Washington D.C. District Federal Court – a traditional stepping-stone to the U.S. Supreme Court – by the Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF) on behalf of Matt Sissel, an Iowa artist and small-business owner. Sissel, an Iraq war veteran, does not have or want health insurance, preferring to use the money to invest in his business.

The District Federal Court ruled against Sissel in June 2013. A few weeks later, the PLF appealed the court’s decision to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.

This month, Timothy Sandefur, co-counsel for PLF, argued before a three-judge panel at the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals that the ACA was not enacted in compliance with constitutional procedures for raising taxes. That means, according to Sandefur, that the entire law was adopted unconstitutionally and should be canceled.

The Origination Clause of the Constitution, Article I, Section 7, requires that legislation to raise revenue must start in the House. This clause was put in to ensure that taxing power remained in the political body more sensitive to public opinion.

Whether the case makes it to the Supreme Court and how they will vote on it, if it does, remains to be seen.

If the Supreme Court ultimately overturns the law in this case, it wouldn’t be for the right reasons. The Supreme Court should have rejected the law for the unconstitutional mandate that it is. But it would still be an act of justice and it would illustrate, in a legal context (rare these days), the impotence of lies and rationalizations utilized to prop up a fallacy.

Does this seem like a desperate attempt to overturn Obamacare on a technicality? In a way, yes. But consider that Obamacare was upheld on not only a technicality, but a lie. The lie was that the law was “merely a tax,” and not a mandate. Its proponents knew full well it was a mandate, and are proud of it. It was a moderate Republican on the Court who used the tax argument as a rationalization to make excuses for the obviously untenable law.

Let’s be real. If many people had their way, we would not even have a Constitution any longer. We’d simply have a majority vote on an endless number of social programs and wealth redistribution schemes. So long as the majority support them, then we’d have them all — subsidized health care, child care, free computers, free houses, there would literally be no end to it.

There’s really and honestly no reason to even support the notion of a Constitution if your views are those of Obama and John Roberts, two powerful men who will justify anything the government desires to do for the people’s “own good.” Obama shows every day in office that he doesn’t care about the Constitution. He regularly makes it clear in his addresses to the nation that whenever Congress doesn’t do what he wants, he’ll simply issue his orders by executive fiat.

Such a mentality would have been inconceivable to America’s Founders — not if exhibited by an American president under the rubric of the American Constitution. They were not naive. They knew America would continue to have a republic only if they could keep it. They simply hoped that the American Constitution would be a powerful check on the power of government to trample individual rights. For a time it was, but that ship has largely set sail.

In the early twenty-first century, we are going through the motions of what may ultimately be viewed as the American republic’s waning years, not unlike the early decline of the Roman empire. The present acknowledgement of the U.S. Constitution is more nominal than anything else. The majority will get the welfare programs they want, even if they don’t yet want them. The whole point of a Constitution — originally — was to put a check on government. The American Constitution specifically states that the federal government may not do anything other than what’s specified in it. Today, ninety percent or more of what the government does is not part of the Constitution.

Even so, advocates of unconstitutional monstrosities such as the “Affordable Care Act” continue to feel obliged to go through the motions of exercising separation of powers in a government checked and limited by a Constitution. One wonders: Why bother? Perhaps they’re afraid of a real revolt if they go too far. But no uprising from the people appears imminent, not unless or until the free benefits stop flowing.

If this case actually ends up being the thing to overturn Obamacare, we’ll still be in the mess we’re in. Medical care will still not be sold on a free market, and Republicans (even if they ever regain the votes) will remain too cowardly to change any of this. But at least a defeat for Obamacare would nicely illustrate how liars, con artists and deceivers ultimately get their due. With or without a real Constitution, reality always exacts its revenge on all who evade it.

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