A conservative lawyer explained the logic for overturning ObamaCare as lucidly as I’ve heard, and on the condition of anonymity.
“The court is going to find a spurious exception to a spurious doctrine,” he said. Then he offered a version of the rationale the Supreme Court majority will, he predicts, use to overturn not just the mandate, but the entire bill:
You have built an imaginary mansion, with thousands of rooms, on the foundation of Wickard v. Filburn — the 1942 ruling that broadened the understanding of how the Commerce Clause could be used to regulate economic activity.
We aren’t being asked to radically revise the Commerce Clause and throw out seven decades of law, and we won’t. But we know the founders never intended the Commerce Clause to allow the Federal Government to regulate everything on the planet. So we are going to accept Randy Barnett’s basically spurious exception to that basically spurious idea, and throw out the Affordable Care Act on the grounds that the Commerce Clause regulates “activity” (which we don’t really believe), but not “inactivity” (because, why not draw the line somewhere?).
This is to say: You have built a fantasy mansion on the Commerce Clause. You can hardly blame us if, in one wing of this mansion, down a dusty corridor, we build a fantasy room called “inactivity,” lock the door, and don’t let you in.
Ben Smith is the editor-in-chief of BuzzFeed and is based in New York.
Contact Ben Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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