By MATTHEW NASH
> SOUTHERN INDIANA —
I have to admit I was a little surprised last week when the Supreme Court announced its decision regarding the Affordable Care Act, widely described as “Obamacare.” I wasn’t surprised by the fact that they affirmed key portions of the health care law — I figured it could go either way. I wasn’t surprised by the fact that it was a 5-4 decision — many of the cases before the Supreme Court are split like this and this was the split that was widely anticipated. What really surprised me the most was the reaction to the decision and the rhetoric that has gone on since.
Before the announcement last week, many people had considered the decision to be a referendum on President Obama himself. It was his key piece of legislation and he had used much of his political capital on getting it passed and promoting it over the last two and a half years. Some thought that if the Supreme Court of the United States ruled it unconstitutional it would strike a blow to his re-election campaign. I find this ironic since much of what comes from the Affordable Care Act was based on a similar plan enacted by then Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.
When CNN reported first that the individual mandate had been struck down as not a valid exercise of the commerce clause and ruled unconstitutional, they characterized it as “a direct blow to the President of the United States, a direct blow to his Democratic Party,” until a few moments later when they read further into the ruling and it was all of a sudden a huge victory for Obama.
The reaction of some nearby politicians was the first thing that caught my eye. Someone posted a link to the website of Sen. Rand Paul, R-KY, in which he said “ just because a couple of people on the Supreme Court declare something to be constitutional does not make it so.” Some people were quick to disagree with Rand Paul’s view of the powers of the Supreme Court and his disregard for 209 years of jurisprudence since the court’s ruling on Marbury vs. Madison.
I was quick to note that the actual words in his statement were actually true. Any student that has passed their high school civics class can tell you that it takes more than a couple, generally considered as two, to rule on the constitutionality of a law. Sen. Paul seems to have given credence to the ruling since it was voted on by a majority of Supreme Court justices 5-4.
Indiana’s Republican governor candidate, Rep. Mike Pence, likened the Supreme Court ruling to the attacks of Sept. 11, 2011. The Affordable Care Act is a piece of legislation that passed both houses of Congress, was signed by the president and has now been affirmed by a majority of the Supreme Court. Many people may not like the legislation and disagree with its premise, but to compare it to one of the darkest days in American history is sickening.
Although Pence later apologized, I believe that it goes to his ability to relate to the people that he is trying to represent.
Former Republican vice presidential nominee, Sarah Palin, was quick to comment on the ruling via her twitter account, “Obama lies, Freedom dies.” President Obama called the individual mandate a penalty, not a tax. Since the Supreme Court ruled it was constitutional under Congress’ ability to tax, does that actually mean that the president is a liar, or did he just interpret the law in a different way. You can ask 10 lawyers the same question and you may get 10 different answers.
When the former half-term governor of Alaska said, “freedom dies” what exactly did she mean? Over the last week or so since the ruling came down I have not noticed anything or anyone who has lost their freedom. The government mandates that we do a lot of different things, whether it pertains to buying car insurance or going to school, or even what speed we are able to drive. My tax dollars go toward a lot of things that I don’t agree with but that doesn’t mean freedom is dead.
Because of the Affordable Care Act and last week’s Supreme Court ruling, eventually millions of Americans, many of which are children, will have access to affordable insurance coverage. Americans will now be able to obtain preventive health care that they deserve as members of a civilized society. Insurance companies will not be able to deny coverage for pre-existing conditions or cancel policies if you become ill. The Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare is not a perfect piece of legislation, but is better than anything that has ever been proposed before.
Matthew Nash doesn’t believe that the Supreme Court ruling means the death of his freedom, that’s what his wedding vows were for. He can be reached at email@example.com.