By Matt Rooney | The Save Jersey Blog
Chief Justice John Roberts has once again proven himself to be a first-rate judicial gymnast, Save Jerseyans. This is gold medal quality work. Perhaps he is America’s first transtextual jurist?
No; not at all. Just the most surprising.
“If the statutory language is plain, the Court must enforce it according to its terms,” the King v. Burwell 6-3 decision authored by Roberts himself reads. “But often times the meaning – or ambiguity – of certain words or phrases may only become evident when placed in context.”
“In this instance, the context and structure of the Act compel us to depart from what would otherwise be the most natural reading of the pertinent statutory phrase.”
Fascinating! Keep in mind that this is the same “conservative” Chief Justice who, three short years ago in another dramatic Obamacare-related ruling, boldly rewrote a federal law to create an entirely novel species of tax, relying on the taxing power of Congress, when the folks who passed it explicitly said, a the time of passage, that it wasn’t a tax. Where was his reliance on “context” then?
Nowhere to be found.
The near-term effect of all of his? A stay of execution, if you will, for the fiscal house of cards that is the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The impact on the American justice system generally and constitutional law specifically, however, is even more concerning for those of us who still care about such things (we’re feeling lonely). Anything is whatever the elite wants it to be, including the U.S. Constitution. So what’s the point of having, ya know, a written one? When no one gives a damn what it actually says? Or the statutes passed pursuant to its authority?
Ironically, it’s hard to view Chief Justice Roberts’s outside of the context (there’s that word again) of our nation’s larger cultural shift towards the oxymoronic state of absolute subjectivity in all things.
Want to cut off your healthy, functional limbs because you “feel” transabled? And collect SSD? Who are we to judge; anyone who says otherwise is a bigot, of course. #YOLO
Want to ignore the plain text of a statute to save a law? Presumably to save your own place on the D.C. cocktail circuit and avoid getting spanked by the NYT? Courageous! Have at it.
Justice Scalia best summed up the impact of both ACA decisions in his predictably punchy dissent, joined by Thomas and Alito:
The somersaults of statutory interpretation they have performed (“penalty” means tax, “further [Medicaid] payments to the State” means only incremental Medicaid payments to the State, “established by the State” means not established by the State) will be cited by litigants endlessly, to the confusion of honest jurisprudence. And the cases will publish forever the discouraging truth that the Supreme Court of the United States favors some laws over others, and is prepared to do whatever it takes to uphold and assist its favorites.”
God help us. I weep for my country and, for that matter, my chosen profession so long as this overtly-political Chief Justice persists in taking his apparent ideological identity crisis out on the rest of the country.