Chief Justice Roberts's Machiavellian supreme play

By labeling the ACA “penalty” a tax, Roberts has clarified the issue: ACA is a huge new burden on the middle class and it is rooted in the most coercive form of federal governmental power — the power to tax the people directly.

If the American people want federalized healthcare at the price of a huge new direct tax, then we conservatives cannot save them. Roberts has given us the very best ground on which to fight this battle (and he has located the battle in the appropriate place, the political realm — would that the jurists in Roe v. Wade had the same wisdom).

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Don’t ignore what Roberts did in not only striking down the Medicaid expansion but in getting a 7-2 majority for it: He has circumscribed ACA at its headwaters (or strangled it in its crib, if you like) as an overweening and “over-federalized” mandate on the states. Now the states will retain discretion as to what services they cover, and the federal government’s assumed power to coerce by negation of all funding is ended. This is a huge step in preserving states’ power against the federal government, and there are seven — SEVEN — justices who agree.
 
Actually, the more I think about what Roberts has done the more I like it. It was sophisticated and advanced conservatism along several fronts: showing judicial restraint; labeling a tax correctly; building a bulwark against future “raids on the Commerce Clause”; and erecting an even higher wall around federal abuses of federal-state cooperative funding mechanisms. These are all good things, and they will redound to conservatism’s benefit now and in the future.

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