For many years, I’ve been arguing that the New Democrats’ idea of pushing the Democratic Party to the right is the actual cause of the Republican Party going completely insane. It’s very simple. The Democratic Party’s push right makes the Republican “tent” smaller. They have no choice but to bunch up in a smaller and smaller group on the far edge of conservative ideology. But this has very broad applicability. Since the mainstream news is all about defining acceptable discourse as whatever is between the Democrats and the Republicans, reality itself is distorted.
We’ve been seeing this with the recent Planned Parenthood hatchet job, where there is no scandal, but still the press has treated it as though it were news. And we’ve seen this regarding Benghazi, the IRS non-scandal, and “Fast and Furious.” But most of all, we’ve seen it in the courts with Obamacare. First there was National Federation of Independent Business v Sebelius. That was a case that most legal experts thought was a joke. It was just something that allowed hate radio hosts to use ridiculous slippery slope arguments, “Could the government force you to eat broccoli?” And then, the broccoli question was asked by Scalia at oral arguments. Unbelievable.
And then more recently, we had King v Burwell, again a joke of a case — but one where the minority found that their previous positions on laws having to be read in their totality didn’t matter. If there was a single phrase that allowed them to destroy a law they didn’t like, they would do it. This is not ultimately about the courts, however. This is about a political system that has gone off the rails, because it depends upon a two party system with each side being reasonable. We now have a system with a conservative party and a proto-fascist party. It’s no wonder that things are so screwed up.
We have a little good news, however. Ian Millhiser wrote, Conservative Federal Judges Wave the White Flag on Obamacare. This doesn’t come as a shock. When the King decision came down, a lot of people commented that Chief Justice Roberts was sending a message that he wanted all these stupid lawsuits to stop. As it was, there were hundreds of them. It was like shooting randomly at a target — some arrows would hit the target by chance. And as we saw, the two anti-Obamacare cases that got traction really were ridiculous.
The newest case in this is Sissel v Department of Health and Human Services. It is a technical challenge to Obamacare, which claimed that the law was invalid because it violated the Origination Clause that says that bills to raise revenue must originate in the House of Representatives. But that doesn’t stop the Senate from taking any House bill and totally rewriting it, which is what it did in this case — just as it has done many other times like in 1986, when it did this to push through a Reagan tax cut. The entire DC Circuit Court said no to this challenge. And that included very conservative justices, including one who said yes to King (actually, it was Halbig at that time — same case).
It seems that John Roberts’ message has been received by the conservatives in the federal court system: no more! The conservatives have had their chances to manipulate the judicial system to destroy Obamacare in a way they haven’t been able to do legislatively. They’ve failed. It is time to get on with other things. And I still think that in another ten (maybe even five) years, even the vast majority of Republicans will see it as untouchable. I expect to start seeing conservative articles with titles like “Actually: Obamacare Is a Conservative Law” and “Is Obamacare Really the Free Market Healthcare Choice?” And then the Republican Party can get on to the serious business of rewriting history about how they were always for Obamacare. Maybe they will start calling it Boehnercare.