For someone who still considers himself a novice at writing a weekly commentary, I struggle coming up with a topic each week, frequently agonizing throughout the weekend, trying to play out some outlines in my head before sitting down in front of the computer Sunday evening to work up the first draft. Somehow the folks in Washington and Albany continue to provide me material to work with and I hope that, for you, the reader, they are matters of interest, worth investing some time to digest.
Well, this last week was a real bell ringer, starting the landmark decision by the Supreme Court on the Affordable Health Care Act. Not only was the outcome a surprise, as most pundits had the odds on the Court’s finding at least a portion of the legislation unconstitutional, but the votes by Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Kennedy seemed out of character. In the 5-4 split decision the normally conservative Roberts opted to side with the more liberal justices, while Justice Kennedy, a moderate, who normally comes in on the side of the more liberal judges, opted to rule with the majority.
Going into the major ruling last week the Supreme Court, like most branches of government these days, hasn’t posted a high favorable rating among the American public. Prior to the most recent rulings, the Rasmussen Report had the justices at a 34 percent excellent or good rating while 17 percent rated the court poor. After the rulings, the excellent to good rating dropped to 22 percent, while the poor rating had increased to 30 percent. Now, I’m no expert on constitutional law or the voting records of the justices, but it seems to me that over the course of time, based on the presidential appointments, justices bring a certain political slant to the bench. I do understand the justices are supposed to be impartial, but let’s face it, in Washington, to reach the level of a lifetime appointment in the Supreme Court, the highest in our land, I must admit I am skeptical that all that political baggage can be left at the door. We carry a certain bias slant based on years of experience.
I can’t help but notice that, given the time the Court had to deliberate the merits of the legislation, the positions on both side of the argument, the current public opinion regarding the Affordable Health Care Act and the opinion shared by many that the vote would come down to Justice Kennedy’s vote, that once it became apparent to the court members that it was to be a 5-4 split decision upholding the constitutionality by considering it a tax and not a forced mandate, that the justices did two things to posture the court. Firstly, they found a solution by sending the final decision on Affordable Health Care back to the people, leaving its future in the hands of the voters during the fall election. Secondly, could Justice Roberts and Justice Kennedy, once they realized nothing would change the 5-4 vote, reverse roles to give the appearance of a vote not along partisan lines? Now, nobody’s saying it, but one can’t help, in this political climate, to be skeptical, especially when Justice Roberts joked that now the court has finished its session he will go to an “impregnable island fortress.” I think the court punted the ball back to the American people, and perhaps that’s where the final decision on this legislation should ultimately reside.
On the same day the court ruled on health care, we witnessed Nancy Pelosi lead more than 100 Democrats up the aisle and out of the House chamber to boycott the first of two Attorney General Holder contempt votes, saying Republicans were more interested in shameful election-year politics than getting their hands on documents for the Fast and Furious debacle. Instead of doing their jobs they stood outside and in unison shouted “Shameful – Shameful” showing their contempt for their Republican counterparts. It’s hard to respect the institution and these members with grandstanding such as this. Thankfully Democrat representative William Owens, who represents many of our readers, stayed on the floor and voted for “transparency.” Regardless of which way he voted, he did the job he was elected to do by staying at his post and registering his vote on behalf of his constituents.
Regardless of your personal feelings on health care, immigration or the Holder contempt hearings, the craziness of all these political tactics should leave us all wondering what’s the real truth, who can we really believe and how on earth can we get these people to stop the childish fighting and get to work solving the real problems facing our nation and our children?
Dan Alexander is publisher and CEO of Denton Publications. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.