This is the month history will be made. To Brown v. Board of Education, Roe v. Wade and Miranda v. Arizona and the rest of the short list of landmark U.S. Supreme Court cases, the justices later this month will add Florida v. HHS – the historic and decisive ruling on the constitutionality of the federal health-care law.
As with those other milestone cases in the annals of American jurisprudence, the “Obamacare” ruling will be a turning point in individual rights. And this one will be no less monumental. “June is shaping up to be a pivotal month for American liberty,” writes author Matt Patterson in a Washington Times column headlined “June can’t come soon enough.”
“The stakes could not be higher: Should the court uphold the individual mandate, it effectively will have abolished the limited, constitutional republic the Founding Fathers created more than two centuries ago.” As consequential as the issues surrounding health care are, that’s not really the matter before the court. The central question for the justices is: Does the Constitution bestow upon the federal government the power to require all Americans to buy insurance, at the bayonet’s point of a fine?
The logical question that follows, as one of the justices inquired during oral arguments, is this: If the government can order us to buy health insurance, what can’t it do?
The government’s argument – essentially, that everyone needs health care, and is therefore in the health-care market, and we’re just regulating it for you – isn’t just a slippery slope; it’s the tallest peak in North America. As Justice Antonin Scalia noted during oral arguments in March, by that logic a Congress could mandate the purchase of broccoli or other healthy foods because it’s in the public good and, heck, people are already in the market for food and we’re just regulating it for you. Again: Using this logic, there is virtually nothing the government couldn’t do.