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Chief Justice Roberts, The Jury is Still Out

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    by Dr. Wilmer J. Leon III

    Much of the Right is furious with Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts for saving President Obama’s healthcare legislation from constitutional defeat. But Roberts may have had a larger conservative agenda. “Could it be that by rejecting the Obama administration’s assertions under the Commerce Clause that Roberts is paving the way for upcoming conservative challenges to established civil rights legislation?” Justice Roberts might right now be advising his fellow right-wingers: Calm down, you’ll thank me later.

    Chief Justice Roberts, The Jury is Still Out

    by Dr. Wilmer J. Leon III

    Be careful who you applaud and why.”

    Last week, in a (5-4) decision, the US Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Dubbed “Obamacare” by its opponents, the ACA is the cornerstone piece of legislation of the Obama administration. Many were surprised that the Court did not overturn the individual mandate provision of the Act requiring most Americans to get health insurance or pay a penalty. Even more surprising to some is that it was Chief Justice Roberts who proved to be the swing vote, siding with the court’s four liberal justices.

    As a result of this decision some conservatives are questioning Chief Justice Roberts’ allegiance to their cause. Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) said, "The Supreme Court has abandoned us…" and Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) said, “"Today’s decision by the Supreme Court of the United States is simply disappointing…." The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board wrote, “the Chief Justice had to rewrite the statute Congress passed in order to salvage it.”

    Liberals and pro ACA advocates are praising Roberts for saving health care reform and possibly the 2012 election for President Obama. Howard Kurtz from Newsweek and The Daily Beast wrote “The man who saved the president’s health-care law is the new liberal heartthrob.” Well, the jury is still out.

    By rejecting the Commerce Clause argument Roberts may not be as liberal as people claim.”

    The Obama administration’s primary argument in supporting health care reform legislation was that Congress had the power to enact the ACA based upon Article 1, Section 8, Clause 3, the Commerce Clause: Congress has the power “To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States....” The Court held that the ACA was unconstitutional based upon the Commerce Clause. However, the court found that the ACA is constitutional based upon Article 1, Section 8, Clause 1, the power to tax: “The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties….” By rejecting the Commerce Clause argument Roberts may not be as liberal as people claim. In fact, this could be Chief Justice Roberts acting more like the great magician Harry Houdini.

    It is possible that in this majority decision Roberts has set the predicate to limit Congress’ power over state action under the Commerce Clause in future decisions. Roberts wrote, “Construing the Commerce Clause to permit Congress to regulate individuals precisely because they are doing nothing would open a new and potentially vast domain to congressional authority…They (the Framers) gave congress the power to regulate commerce, not to compel it.”

    The Court has upheld Congress’ use of the Commerce Clause as a grant of congressional authority over the states’ in particular instances. The problem is that the Constitution does not define “commerce.” Some believe that it refers simply to trade or exchange, while others believe that the founders had a broader meaning that applies to commercial and social intercourse between citizens of different states. The latter has allowed the national government to exert a greater amount of power over the states in civil rights and voting rights cases. For example, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed by Congress based upon the Commerce Clause.

    By rejecting the Commerce Clause argument Roberts may not be as liberal as people claim.”

    The Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case of Fisher v. University of Texas and will rule later this year. Fisher challenges the University of Texas’ ability to use race as factor in its affirmative action program. The Court is also expected to rule on a Texas voting rights case that will provide clarity about the role of the federal courts under the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Could it be that by rejecting the Obama administration’s assertions under the Commerce Clause that Roberts is paving the way for upcoming conservative challenges to established civil rights legislation?

    Most will tell you that Chief Justice Roberts is a brilliant man. He is playing three-dimensional chess while most others are playing checkers. With this ACA decision Roberts may have engaged in a level of prestidigitation that even Houdini would envy. By giving the Obama administration its legal victory with his left hand (pardon the pun), he taps his magic wand (or pen) with his right hand and limits the power of the national government to regulate state action going forward.

    At the end of the day, is this not what ultra-conservatives are after? They claim to want a smaller national government, returning power to the states, “states rights.” If this is Roberts’ true intention (and only time will tell) it will be harder for liberals to complain about his logic since he laid out the predicate for it in the ACA decision that they are now applauding.

    Be careful who you applaud and why. Chief Justice Roberts may not be a traitor to the conservative cause, the jury is still out.

    Wilmer Leon is the Producer/ Host of the nationally broadcast call-in talk radio program “Inside the Issues with Wilmer Leon,” and a Teaching Associate in the Department of Political Science at Howard University in Washington, D.C. Go to or email:

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    Chattel slavery coming back to America:

    The legal implications of the Supreme Court ruling on the Obama health care law

    The Health Insurance Company Bailout Act of 2012

    Roberts & Obama has handed liberals a candy apple containing a razor blade.

    Word is that Obama, the Insurance companies, and Wall street leaned on Roberts (I.E. gave him an offer he couldn't refuse), and he changed his decision at the last minute. They want that bail out cash now!

    I'm not eligible for Medicare or Medicaid, so in essence, Obama is forcing me to buy private insurance. My job has already stopped paying for our "basic" health care plan a few years back, and now I'm paying $200 a month for an individual plan that's offering less and less and less... And now they're talking about our co-pays, and the $200 price tag going up!

    ObamaRomneyCare is really a boondoggle for the insurance companies. Under ObamaRomneyCare, If i drop my unaffordable private insurance and then file my tax return in 2014, without showing that i have a private plan, i'll be forced to pay a tax penalty. "The size of the penalty will rise over time and eventually reach a maximum of several thousand dollars a year." - WSJ

    So they're rationing private plans with the prices going up up up, while stripping Medicare (ObamaRomneyCare cuts half-a-trill) and Medicaid down to the bone as well [with the "death panel" advisory boards and so-forth]. On top of this, Michele Obama & Bloomberg keeps telling us what to eat and drink.

    Obama & Roberts passed the law, but invoked "states rights." They did this knowing full well that the states are trending towards the reintroduction of slavery, not the expansion of Medicare & Medicaid. There are now 23 union busting, right to work states:

    With fascist Republican Governor's and Wall street Democrat Governor's slashing state budgets, going after peoples jobs, pay & pensions, and trying their best to turn non-right to work states into right to work states.

    Ron Paul, the DixiecRATS, and the Scottish Rite Freemasons should all be proud.