A little more on the health care ruling

What is really so annoying and absurd about this is ridiculous, alarmist headlines like this from the Times:

A Fatal Blow to Obama’s Health Care Law?

Please!  That’s what I’d expect from Fox News (okay, minus the question mark).  Actually, the series of experts in the discussion is quite interesting and I think most all of them make interesting points.  On matters of pure Constitutional jurisprudence, however, I think Jack Balkin makes the key point: Hudson’s ruling essentially asks us to return to a pre-1934 understanding of the Commerce Clause:

To make his case, Judge Hudson was forced to dredge up jurisprudence from the court’s Lochner Era, which has been discredited since the New Deal.

Judge Hudson had long since tipped his hand, so the actual result was not unexpected. What was unexpected was the remarkable weakness of his arguments. Perhaps the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit will remind Judge Hudson that this is not 1934.

I also love Ezra Klein’s response to this.  The whole reason to have the individual mandate is to preserve a system of private health insurance! This is an idea to appease (reasonable, of which few are left) conservatives.  The other major alternative is a single payer system.  Is that really what conservatives want?

Also, Jon Chait more thoroughly spins out the case I was making in my previous post:

The real loser here is the health insurance lobby. Health insurers would have preferred to avoid any health care reform at all. But the health insurance lobby’s second-highest priority would be a working system with an individual mandate. A world in which they cannot discriminate against sick people but in which healthy people can avoid buying insurance until they’re sick is a nightmare.

The health insurance lobby spent tens of millions of dollars to defeat health care reform. They have a lot of pull among Republicans. A system that gouges the health insurers but keeps in place the subsidies and regulations liberals want is not a status quo I see lasting very long.

Y’all know how much I love Chait, so I love it when we come to the same essential points independently.  Anyway, this will certainly be interesting to follow from both the political and legal perspective, but I wish the media would actually try to keep this all in perspective.

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

2 Responses to A little more on the health care ruling

  1. Jason says:

    I agree with all of this and the criticism that this is a pre-National Labor Relations Board v. Jones & Laughlin Steel Co. type decision… and that the Court so far has refused to go back that far (even the cases in the late ’90s dealing with guns in school and violence against women were about issues that weren’t directly economic/commercial in nature, so I can see their logic while at the same time disagreeing with them)… but this Roberts Court is so conservative that I’m afraid it will be a case of the New Four Horsemen plus Kennedy leading us to the Health Care Apocalypse…

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