Understanding the ACA Arguments
mae.kuykendall at law.msu.edu
Thu Mar 29 12:29:28 PDT 2012
Judicial rhetoric includes claims of deference to a political branch where precedent points another way. A recurring element of judicial deference has to do with decisions that affect the funding of programs. While the general idea is not to impose a funding obligation, as with San Antonio v. Rodriguez, there is also the idea that certain subjects, where decisions about allocation of resources are made, are not within the Court's proper domain. Indeed, in San Antonion v. R, Powell seemed to concede a little bit of fundamental right to an education but a deference problem of considerable power. In Miller v. Allbright, Justice Scalia pointed out the decisions on immigration lay within Congress, since the Court lacked the power to grant citizenship, which was the relief requested. He thus said the gendered rule affecting citizenship did not need to survive any scrutiny, which was entirely irrelevant. (Yes, the structure of the argument differs, since he said the Court had no power to grant the requested relief. Here, the Court can only destroy a program that will provide relief and has no means of replacing it.) In the case of the male-only draft, the Court contorted to appear to apply heightened scrutiny, while really deferring to Congress. Justice White demolished the idea it was heightened scrutiny. My point is, deference often preempts precedent and logic-chopping. Here, while there may be no direct deference doctrine, other than hesitating to declare Congressional acts unconstitutional, there is the glaringly obvious point that the Court has no capacity to enact or supervise heath care programs for a complex modern society. It only has the capacity to disrupt a health care program that is the culmination of years of work by many sectors of American society, including smart doctors, Presidents, and Congress. In San Antonio v. R., Powell mentioned a lack of institutional expertise in the subject at hand. Those were the days. mk
>>> "Conkle, Daniel O." <conkle at indiana.edu> 3/29/2012 2:53 PM >>>
I wonder whether any of the current justices is truly deferential to the political branches in the current context. In particular, is there any justice who (a) believes that, as a matter of independent inquiry, the individual mandate (or the Medicaid expansion) exceeds the reach of Congress’s constitutional power, properly understood, but (b) is willing nonetheless to defer to Congress despite its erroneous (in the justice’s view) conclusion to the contrary?
(Isn’t deference to Congress in this setting a bit like stare decisis? If a justice agrees with a particular result as a matter of independent inquiry, precedent doesn’t matter. Stare decisis only matters if the justice disagrees with the result but is willing to follow the precedent anyway. )
Daniel O. Conkle
Robert H. McKinney Professor of Law
Indiana University Maurer School of Law
Bloomington, Indiana 47405
fax (812) 855-0555
e-mail conkle at indiana.edu
From: conlawprof-bounces at lists.ucla.edu [mailto:conlawprof-bounces at lists.ucla.edu] On Behalf Of Miguel Schor
Sent: Thursday, March 29, 2012 2:06 PM
To: Scarberry, Mark
Cc: Conlawprof at lists.ucla.edu
Subject: Re: Understanding the ACA Arguments
To argue deference the political branches is not to argue that judicial review is illegitimate. What I don't understand (and this is a sincere question) is why those who fear that upholding the mandate will then allow Congress to enact an eat your broccoli law think that political checks and balances do not do any work in our constitutional system (or that paying attention to this somehow delegitimizes judicial review). Congress of course is not going to enact a law requiring all citizens to eat broccoli. More to the point, setting ambition against ambition is a crucial limiting "principle" in its own right. There are many, many examples of constitutions around the globe that are merely parchment barriers and one thing they all lack is a workable system of political checks and balances.
Does your approach suggest that judicial review is illegitimate?
I understand Justice Scalia said in oral argument that political processes failed in this case (with regard to the mandate). I suppose he meant that the mandate is rather clearly beyond Congress’s power, and thus that we can’t trust the political process, at least on the front end, to constrain Congress from exceeding its powers.
For those who think the mandate does clearly exceed Congress’s power, the next election may provide evidence for or against the proposition that the political processes eventually work (on the back end) to constrain Congress. That is, the election may do so if the Court punts on the issue and thus does not decide the validity of the mandate.
Past history provides little reason, I think, to believe that the political processes work in this way, either on the front end or the back end.
Some list members still will think that the mandate exceeds Congress’s power even if the Court upholds it. For them, the election may provide evidence for or against the view that the political process eventually will bring us back to a reasonable understanding of the limits on government power under the Constitution even when the Court gets it wrong.
Mark S. Scarberry
Pepperdine Univ. School of Law
Malibu, CA 90263
From: conlawprof-bounces at lists.ucla.edu [mailto:conlawprof-bounces at lists.ucla.edu] On Behalf Of Mae Kuykendall
Sent: Wednesday, March 28, 2012 9:15 AM
To: David A Nordquest; Conlawprof at lists.ucla.edu
Subject: Re: Understanding the ACA Arguments
I sent the following comment to a colleague this morning, which may be reinforced by our receipt of an email from a philosophy professor.
To wit: I think the idea the Court has to find a limiting principle is silly. The political process produces limiting principles to spare. Government is not a philosophical seminar.
>>> "Nordquest, David A" <NORDQUES001 at gannon.edu> 3/28/2012 11:53 AM >>>
Professor Duncan wrote: ‘I like the original analogy better as demonstrating for my students how inactivity ("I don't want to buy health insurance") is treated as activity ("but someday in the near or far future you will go to an emergency room, so we will treat that as present activity") under Obamacare. I know: X is Y for the purposes of Z. The analogy demonstrates that move in a manner the students can grasp.’
This shows further how pro-ACA arguments tend toward monism. All acts and non-acts together form one market and, as Professor Duncan suggests, acts or non-acts at any time count for all times. Everything is one!
Assistant Professor of Philosophy,
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