Three months ago, I quoted George Jonas on the 30th anniversary of Canada’s ghastly “Charter of Rights and Freedoms”: “There seems to be an inverse relationship between written instruments of freedom, such as a Charter, and freedom itself,” wrote Jonas. “It’s as if freedom were too fragile to be put into words: If you write down your rights and freedoms, you lose them.”
For longer than one might have expected, the U.S. Constitution was a happy exception to that general rule – until, that is, the contortions required to reconcile a republic of limited government with the ambitions of statism rendered U.S. constitutionalism increasingly absurd. As I also wrote three months ago (yes, yes, don’t worry, there’s a couple of sentences of new material in amongst all the I-told-you-so stuff), “The United States is the only Western nation in which our rulers invoke the Constitution for the purpose of overriding it – or, at any rate, torturing its language beyond repair.”
Thus, the Supreme Court’s Obamacare decision. No one could seriously argue that the Framers’ vision of the Constitution intended to provide philosophical license for a national government (“federal” hardly seems le mot juste) whose treasury could fine you for declining to make provision for a chest infection that meets the approval of the Commissar of Ailments. Yet on Thursday, Chief Justice John Roberts did just that. And conservatives are supposed to be encouraged that he did so by appeal to the Constitution’s taxing authority rather than by a massive expansion of the Commerce Clause. Indeed, several respected commentators portrayed the Chief Justice’s majority vote as a finely calibrated act of constitutional seemliness.
…It should also be a given that this decision is a forlorn marker on a great nation’s descent into steep decline and decay. Granted the dysfunctionalism of Canadian health care, there’s at least the consolation of an equality of crappiness for all except Cabinet ministers and NHL players. Here, it’s 2,800 unread pages of opt-outs, favors, cronyism, and a $695 fine for those guilty of no crime except wanting to live their lives without putting their bladder under the jurisdiction of Commissar Sebelius.
And the Constitution is apparently cool with all that.
So be it. It’s down to the people now – as it should be. But, meanwhile, a little less deference to judges wouldn’t go amiss. The U.S. Supreme Court is starting to look like Britain’s National Health Service – you wait two years to get in, and then they tell you there’s nothing wrong. And you can’t get a second opinion.
Here comes the high-octane nightmare fuel:
- The US has already slid too far down the socialized medicine slippery slope [UPDATED]
- The US owes more than the entire planet can pay back!