The way decision is construed is as important as the decision itself. If the Commerce Clause would have been used to affirm an expansive federal purview and the absolute death of limited government. The clause would have then become an avenue for permissiveness in basically everything Congress decides to enact.

In the past, the Clause was used to consider interstate commerce, thus subject to Federal regulation, even the crops you grow in your backyard’s garden.   Now, the court refused to accept an expansive interpretation of the clause to regulate a non-activity, not purchasing health insurance. Roberts stated:

“The power to regulate commerce presupposes the existence of commercial activity to be regulated. . . . The individual mandate, however, does not regulate existing commercial activity. It instead compels individuals to become active in commerce by purchasing a product, on the ground that their failure to do so affects interstate commerce. Construing the Commerce Clause to permit Congress to regulate individuals precisely because they are doing nothing would open a new and potentially vast domain to congressional authority. . . . Allowing Congress to justify federal regulation by pointing to the effect of inaction on commerce would bring countless decisions an individual could potentially make within the scope of federal regulation, and — under the government’s theory — empower Congress to make those decisions for him.”

Now, if a political faction wants to impose a new government program that imperils the scope of activity by individuals and basic communities it must sell it as a tax on the people. The issue remains a political decision by the people because to try other means would demonstrate the exercise as unconstitutional. In a sense, the decision reaffirms the constitutional barrier to unbridled Congressional action.

The Court is saying that the Constitution strictly prohibits certain governmental decisions even if they try to sell them for “our good.” The enumerated powers of the Federal government are affirmed as a boundary against the state. If one wants to offer a new “wonderful program” one then needs to find constitutional warrant or else convince the people to tax themselves. The line is now drawn between those of us who affirm the limited scope of the Federal government and those who just want whatever their heart’s desire by whatever means necessary. In the end, after all, we get the governments we deserve.

Advertisements