Pages: 1 2
Taking power often means leaving principle. The noble idealism one utters on the outside becomes quaint sentimentalism once inside. Power shifts the perceptions of not just the listeners but the speakers.
In 2005, Senator Barack Obama justified voting against the confirmation of Roberts to the Supreme Court by opining that the George W. Bush-nominee “has far more often used his formidable skills on behalf of the strong in opposition to the weak.” The chief justice siding with the federal government’s bullying of individuals into buying health insurance from massive companies meshes with Senator Obama’s portrayal. But now that Obama is president, his opinions—on John Roberts and on judges siding with the small over the big—has necessarily changed.
Who believes that punishing the uninsured with a fine paid to the IRS empowers the powerless?
“I will be voting against John Roberts’ nomination,” Obama announced in 2005. “I do so with considerable reticence. I hope that I am wrong. I hope that this reticence on my part proves unjustified and that Judge Roberts will show himself to not only be an outstanding legal thinker but also someone who upholds the Court’s historic role as a check on the majoritarian impulses of the executive branch and the legislative branch. I hope that he will recognize who the weak are and who the strong are in our society. I hope that his jurisprudence is one that stands up to the bullies of all ideological stripes.”
Roberts turned out to be everything Senator Obama feared that he would be. And President Obama is just fine with that.
Barack Obama is no longer a junior senator in the minority but the president of the United States. He has warmed up to “majoritarian impulses” and “the strong.” His power has shifted his perception just as our perception of words shift when their author wears a black robe like Roberts (or military garb like Esposito). Words that sentence a speaker to the loony bin become commands to be obeyed when the speaker possesses power but not rationality.
The chief justice may have changed his mind. The Constitution didn’t change its meaning. Citizens should obey the law. They shouldn’t obey the lawyers. If John Roberts is free to disagree with John Roberts about whether the individual mandate constitutes a tax, then Americans are certainly free to disagree with John Roberts, too.
The grade-school children of San Marcos didn’t turn sixteen en masse because their bearded leader decreed it. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act isn’t constitutional because John Roberts says it is.
Freedom Center pamphlets now available on Kindle: Click here.
Pages: 1 2