• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • Leahy Lectures Chief Justice on Obamacare

    It’s not every day that a member of one branch of the federal government tries to be the boss of the leader of a separate branch. But last week, a senior Senator on the powerful Judiciary Committee weighed in to claim that, instead of striving to uphold the Constitution, the Supreme Court should simply follow his branch’s lead.

    “I trust that he will be a chief justice for all of us and that he has a strong institutional sense of the proper role of the judicial branch,” Senator Patrick Leahy (D–VT), said in a floor statement aimed at Chief Justice John Roberts. “The conservative activism of recent years has not been good for the Court. Given the ideological challenge to the Affordable Care Act and the extensive, supportive precedent, it would be extraordinary for the Supreme Court not to defer to Congress in this matter that so clearly affects interstate commerce.”

    There’s a reason for Leahy’s 11-hour pressure campaign: During oral argument, several justices seemed to be leaning toward the idea that Congress doesn’t have the power under the Commerce Clause to force Americans to buy health insurance. As Heritage’s Hans von Spakovsky and Todd Gaziano explained on The Foundry:

    There’s a difference between regulating commerce that’s already happening and forcing individual Americans to enter into commerce—in this case, the health care market—so that Congress can better regulate it. Justices Breyer and Sotomayor seemingly could not accept a meaningful difference between the two. If Congress were able to regulate things that people will eventually have to do, then there would be virtually no limits to its power.

    And as Alexander Hamilton wrote in Federalist No. 78, judges must act to toss out unconstitutional laws, since “[n]o legislative act, therefore, contrary to the Constitution, can be valid.”

    Leahy, in fact, is the one who seems to be violating precedent with his blatant attempt to influence a Supreme Court decision. Hamilton warned that while “the judiciary is beyond comparison the weakest of the three departments of power,” judges would be overstepping their bounds if they teamed up with members of the executive or legislative branches. In fact, he warned against actions such as Leahy’s, since the judiciary “is in continual jeopardy of being overpowered, awed, or influenced by its co-ordinate branches.”

    It’s perfectly acceptable for a legislator such as Leahy to argue that the law is constitutional. Of course, many lawmakers couldn’t be bothered with making such arguments when they had the opportunity a few years ago. Recall that, when a reporter asked in 2009: “Where, specifically, does the Constitution grant Congress the authority to enact an individual health insurance mandate?” then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D–CA) answered only, “Are you serious? Are you serious?”

    Now it’s up to the Court to answer that serious question. Next month, it will.

    Posted in First Principles, Obamacare [slideshow_deploy]

    8 Responses to Leahy Lectures Chief Justice on Obamacare

    1. Rodrigues says:

      Wow! this is almost a threat to Chief Justice. If a commoner had done it he would have been arrested by now.
      May god bless America if Senator Leahy permits otherwise he may threaten god too.

    2. David G. Lund says:

      Senator Leahy, by his disrespectful remarks directed against the chief Justice, has opened the door to his own condemnation! Consider his warning that the court should not go against the will of the people and its enactment of Obamacare: (1) the Senator considers Obamacare as having been supported and enacted by The People! How arrogant, but typical! Obamacare was enacted by a Democratically-controlled Congress, which ignored ALL polls, each of which indicated that 70% of The People DID NOT WANT OBAMACARE! (2) In addition, public protests that demanded "no" votes for the flawed, incomplete bill were also ignored! Senator Leahy has clearly revealed his OWN disregard for "the will of the People" and deserves a public reprimand!

      • Richie I says:

        I would take it a step further and say that he be Brought before the SC to explain his socialist rant / threat to Roberts & Company!

    3. sbenard says:

      What does it say about the tyrannical mindset of progressives that they see adherence to the Constitution as "activism"? Belief in limited government makes tyranny and activism impossible. On the other hand, refusal by progressives to acknowledge individual liberty or any limits on government is, by definition, a recipe for tyranny!

    4. Richard_FL says:

      Ya, that's right, I am going to listen to a guy who other than working in a law practice for two years after graduation over someone who has spent their entire life in the pursuit of justice and equality in the law.

      This guy is a disgusting loser, who all he knows is big government and being on the taxpayers dole.

      What a loser……………who really cares what he thinks.

      How about getting a real job and doing something for a change……..oh, that's right you have your ticket punched and will continue to suck off the teat of the taxpayer for the rest of your existence.

      PATHETIC!!

    5. Bobbie says:

      Wow! How low will democrats go? Scratch that question!
      RESPECT THE TRUE INTERPRETATION OF THE PEOPLES CONSTITUTION!

      The government refused their duty of oversight that created this manufactured crisis so now they want to take our control of our health care and regulate it for their power gain? None of the excuses that brought this health care issue into a crisis amounts to anything when the reasons should've been handled and corrected to avoid this manufactured crisis. The number of people uninsured has no accuracy and changes at a convenience while it's never been the majority and nobody went without health care that needed it.

      Insurance has become rudely misused into a word of government convenience. What sense does it make to have some obligated the insurance costs and medical costs while all of America is mandated to have insurance some at no costs at all? It's unsustainable when we're being unfairly charged today misleading America into thinking it's free! It's not ever going to be free. The government doesn't show any responsibility as it is! What's fair? Where's the benefit? There is none! Let the free market handle it where accountability is held and Americans don't have to unfairly deal with unconstitutional government regulations that doesn't apply to ones personal health! Don't give into this unconstitutional authority.

    6. Bob says:

      These words spoken by Senator Leahy are conducive to blatant manipulation of our highest court. Last I checked that was reason enough to begin impeachment proceeds for treason. Joseph McCarthy did way less and was virtually carries out of D.C on the proverbial rail!

    7. Mary says:

      I watched that speech, slurred at best, what a curious specimen this Senator. Vermont! Are you saying this is your best and brightest, that's all you've got!? God please save us from ourselves.

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.

    ×