A few years ago, the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan was asked to tell what was the most important change in our country he could identity. He answered: “The biggest change, in my judgment, is that the family structure has come apart all over the North Atlantic world.”[1] The unprecedented cultural change in family norms seemed to just pop up out of nowhere in the great disruption of the 1960 but in reality they were being nurtured out of sight for long.

Beginning in the depths of culture, these dramatic foundational detours have eventually given way to many legal changes. The later catch the eye of people only when they become political, that is, when its powerful exertions are so encompassing that it is difficult to turn the tide. Laws redefining marriage or those allowing for uncontested divorce did not just magically appeared, they lifted themselves from the bootstraps of culture.

Which takes us to the present health care Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the health care law.  There is much to learn here as we try to examine the  decision. One of the legacies of the social revolutions that begin as a slow erosion of long-held views is that we end up blaming some present political faction or personality for the problem when, in truth, they are only the political creations of antecedent factors.

As much as  one may dislike the decision of Justice Roberts to side with the staunch collectivist faction in the Court, he is no advocate of kritarchy. His voice rings true in reminding us that it is not the job of the Court to make policy judgments which is for lawmakers “who can be thrown out of office if the people disagree with them. It is not our job to protect the people from the consequences of their political choices.” In short, we get the governments we deserve. Following the thread, the governments we get flow from the type of culture we embrace and the ideas we hold.

It could very well be the case that Roberts was very intentional in keeping the Supreme Court above the partisan fray of the present political season. A decision against Obamacare would have served as a catalyst for an anti-court campaign that could damage its long term reputation. He simply reverted the debate back to the political sphere while clearly stating that the law violates the Commerce Clause. The Commerce Clause may be the most abused one by those attempting to expand the role of the Federal government and now it seems out of reach to justify further mandates.

In a way, Justice Roberts is telling us that he cannot save us from ourselves and we cannot simply run to the Court to bypass the work we need to do to rebuild the foundations of our Republic. Although it can be argued that the taxation power has been given a shot in the arm, that is not the kind of political argument politicians are ready to embrace. That is why President Obama was vehement in denying that his health care overhaul amounted to a tax increase. Yes, for some reason he did not simply strike down the law instead of doing what some call rewriting the law from the bench. But the real issue remains, the political and legal arena are the end of a long rope.

A cultural issue not attended becomes a political war from where we cannot simply wish for some people in black robes to come to the rescue. There is no political substitute to cultural transformation and there is no legal magic wand to a political issue. Roberts simply deprived the left of a reasoning using the Commerce Clause and revealed the Administration as the greatest and most irresponsible spender in history while taking off their hands a powerful campaign tool of running against a conservative white male evil faction on the Court.

The task remains the same, going back to the streets of our cities and the roads of our countryside and remind all of the beauty of freedom. Remind the young of the wonderful experiment of freedom the Founders gifted us with. The time is not for whining or retreating. The time is to honor our responsibility to fight for freedom instead of looking for an alibi to surrender.


[1] Cited in William J. Bennett, The Broken Heart: Reversing the Moral Collapse of the American Family ( New York: Doubleday, 2001) p. 1.

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