It’s a really bad idea for the American people to give up the rule of law in exchange for government goodies. They’ve been doing it for a long time, but ObamaCare is a real gut-check moment for the Republic. There is simply no way to legally justify Barack Obama’s abuses of executive power to modify this twisted “law” on the fly. He has given several orders he simply does not have the legal authority to issue. There should be a gigantic period at the end of that sentence… but there isn’t.
It fell to eleven Republican Attorneys General to stand up for the rule of law, in letter to the most powerful (and hapless) bureaucrat on Earth, as reported by The Hill:
???We support allowing citizens to keep their health insurance coverage, but the only way to fix this problem-ridden law is to enact changes lawfully: through Congressional action,??? the attorneys general wrote in a letter to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. ???The illegal actions by this administration must stop.???
They say the healthcare fix was ???flatly illegal under federal constitutional and statutory law.???HHS did not respond to a request for comment.
West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey wrote the letter, which was signed by his counterparts in Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas and Virginia.
Signatories include Gregg Abbott of Texas ??? who???s running for governor this year ??? and Ken Cuccinelli of Virginia.
James D. ???Buddy??? Caldwell of Louisiana was previously a member of the Democratic Party, but switched to the GOP in 2011.
It speaks poorly of the Democrat Party that none of their AGs seem interested in taking a stand on this issue. It should transcend party politics. Of course it’s politically difficult for a Democrat to level such stern charges against a President from their own party, at a moment when the public is extremely unhappy with his performance… but that’s what the rule of law is all about. The Constitution should not be erased as a matter of temporary convenience, or overridden by partisan passions. It’s not even supposed to lose its authority by popular demand. Of course politicians don’t like to subordinate their agendas to legal restraint. Successful politicians are good at convincing a large number of citizens to share their frustrations. But it’s vitally necessary to have a legal framework that cannot be swept aside by either Ruling Class ambitions or passing populist fancy.
The rule of law is most sorely tested when fidelity carries a steep price. Is that not true of every law? Freedom of speech is only put to the test when the speech in question is objectionable. The separation of powers is easy enough for Washington culture to respect when the Beltway media is happily burbling about the latest soap opera developments. But when the employer mandate of ObamaCare became a gigantic problem that would have jeopardized the survival of the law by ruining lives – imagine Obama’s Big Lie about keeping your insurance plan detonating with ten times as much force over the past few months – the President simply waved it away. It would have been too difficult to obey the law and submit his proposed changes to the legislature, so he didn’t bother. Most of Washington culture reacted by declaring itself impressed with his audacity, and coming up with good reasons why the Constitution was simply too inconvenient for that dramatic moment.
Is there political opportunism in the Republican Attorneys General writing this letter to Secretary Sebelius? Their letter included criticism beyond the legal argument they raised, but which addresses a problem every Attorney General should be concerned about:
Security on the state and federal health insurance exchanges is another major issue the Republicans say they want the Obama administration to improve.
HHS continues to ???ignore the widespread public outcry over the security of consumers??? private information??? on exchanges,??? they wrote, adding that they???re concerned about the administration???s decision to ???not propose and implement rigorous privacy standards for outreach personnel.???
We must remember that since the insurance industry has been effectively nationalized, all discussion of that industry is now a partisan political argument. That’s a good reason to avoid nationalizing industries. Another reason is that the government transitions from its role as legal referee to becoming a player in the game… and it relies heavily on breaking its own laws to carry out its game plan. Private sector companies would be rightly terrified of the legal consequences for unleashing an insecure, untested, almost completely non-functional product like Healthcare.gov; federal regulators would destroy such operations before lawsuits had a chance to bankrupt them.
But now the rule of law must be elbowed aside by the bloated Leviathan State, which has absolutely no intention of operating under the kind of scrutiny it would (and should!) apply to private industry. Indeed, several of these ObamaCare “hot fixes” have involved either inviting insurance companies to disregard the law (President Obama’s risible “solution” to the problem of ACA-mandated insurance cancellations) or actively threatening them into doing so (the suspension of insurance payment deadlines until mid-January, an impractical violation of the Affordable Care Act’s text that may very well be repeated before all is said and done.)
When every decision in American life becomes a political debate, it inevitably becomes a partisan debate. Very few Democrats seem terribly interested in critiquing the legal basis for Obama’s dictatorial revisions to the Affordable Care Act, including the members of Congress whose authority is being bypassed. None of them has much to say about the flagrant violation of a law they signed, which is not good news for the American system of government.
We’re supposed to accept the incredible growth of government power without fretting about “tyranny” or living in a “banana republic” because we still get to control the course of the State with our votes. But what, exactly, are we voting on? Not only was the ACA passed in the dead of night after a disgusting round of closed-door negotiations and backroom deals, but the actual text of the law doesn’t matter any more… except when the executive branch arbitrarily decides it does. ObamaCare apologists attack the notion of using the legal mechanisms of congressional representation to modify or repeal this law as treasonous. We are told, over and over again, that our elected representatives no longer have anything to say about it. The Administration has certainly been conducting itself that way.
There is much talk about whether ObamaCare will survive or fail in the future. But let it be noted for the record – and this is not a trivial point of argument – that ObamaCare has already failed. The Affordable Care Act was not implemented as written and ratified under the rules of American government. It would have been repealed a long time ago, with a bipartisan majority driven by millions of furious American citizens, if the law passed by Congress was properly enforced. We wonder whether ObamaCare’s critics or defenders will prevail in elections to come, but in truth the critics already won decisively, and the rule of law lost.