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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Targeting John Roberts

The left tries to intimidate the High Court on ObamaCare.

You can tell the Supreme Court is getting closer to its historic ObamaCare ruling because the left is making one last attempt to intimidate the Justices. The latest effort includes taunting Chief Justice John Roberts that if the Court overturns any of the law, he'll forever be defined as a partisan "activist."

Senate Judiciary Chairman Pat Leahy recently took the extraordinary step of publicly lobbying the Chief Justice after oral argument but before its ruling. "I trust that he will be a Chief Justice for all of us and that he has a strong institutional sense of the proper role of the judicial branch," the Democrat declared on the Senate floor. "The conservative activism of recent years has not been good for the Court."

He added that, "Given the ideological challenge to the Affordable Care Act and the extensive, supportive precedent, it would be extraordinary for the Supreme Court not to defer to Congress in this matter that so clearly affects interstate commerce."

The elite liberal press has followed with pointed warnings that Mr. Roberts has a choice—either uphold ObamaCare, or be portrayed a radical who wants to repeal the New Deal and a century of precedent. This attack is itself clearly partisan, but it's worth rehearsing the arguments to show how truly flawed they are.

The first fallacy is defining judicial activism as overturning a Congressional law. Since Marbury v. Madison established judicial review in 1803, the High Court has overturned hundreds of laws in part or whole. The real measure of activism is whether the Court's reasoning is rooted in Constitutional principle. If it is, the Court is not activist but is adhering to the highest legal principles.

Regarding the Affordable Care Act, we'd argue that upholding the individual mandate to buy health insurance requires far more judicial activism. That's because if the Court finds this federal mandate to be Constitutional, it will have no principle on which to limit future purchase mandates.

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