“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.” (Lewis Carroll: “Through the Looking Glass”)
After hearing the oral arguments regarding Obamacare subsidies on Wednesday the Supreme Court must decide whether its deliberations will be informed by Noah Webster or Lewis Carrroll.
The argument before the court is whether the language of the law means what it says. The law states that premium subsidies are for those in an “exchange established by the state.” However, 37 states chose to not establish exchanges so the Obama administration decided to ignore the law and provide the subsidies to those covered by federal exchanges too.
Seven months ago I wrote that the language at issue was put into the Senate version of the law explicitly to get the vote of Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb). That language was in the final version passed by the Congress and signed by the president.
IRS professionals concluded that the law forbade subsidies to those enrolled in federal exchanges. The IRS Chief Counsel, a political appointee, overruled that decision, but emails between the professionals are clear that they did not agree with his decision.
Through March of last year the administration changed the law 38 times beginning with changing the date that businesses must comply in order to get through the 2014 election without the political pain caused by more cancelled plans.
Last month Democrats prevailed upon the president to waive the law again to extend the open enrollment period so that those who receive a tax bill for not enrolling in Obamacare will be able to enroll in an exchange to avoid the penalty.
The president showed his contempt for the constitution in other matters too. He ignored the advice from Pentagon lawyers and the White House Legal Counsel and waged a war in Libya without Congressional approval.
Just after the last election the president ignored immigration law and instructed the Department of Homeland Security to not enforce deportations and instructed the bureaucracy to provide Social Security numbers and work permits to illegal aliens.
The IRS then decided to allow those with new Social Security numbers to file tax returns to recover three years of child tax credits and the Earned Income Tax Credit. It has been estimated that a family of four could get a check from the taxpayers for about $35,000.
All without Congressional action.
A federal district judge in Texas decided that the president’s action is unconstitutional and must stop. The Obama administration misled the judge on the intended starting date of the program and over 100,000 illegals were given amnesty before his ruling took effect. The administration is appealing the court’s ruling. The president also warned that for those who failed to carry out his policy “there are going to be consequences.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) has recently urged the president to increase Social Security taxes by executive order. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest, in response to questions from the press, did not deny that such a plan was under consideration.
In its argument before the Court last Wednesday the administration painted a picture of gloom should the Supreme Court decide that the words in Obamacare mean what they say and several million people lose their subsidies.
Exploring a way to solve this dilemma, Justice Antonin Scalia, asked Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, "Do you think Congress is going to sit there while all the disastrous consequences occur?"
"This Congress?" replied Verrilli. In just two words he summed up the administrations position.
The fact that the voters elected this Congress is inconsequential. The administration knows what’s best. They will ignore this Congress and act alone.
The Court’s decision will decide much more than whether the language of the law means what it says. It will also decide whether the constitution means what it says. If they decide that the administration’s good intentions trump the language of the law they will be deciding that the executive branch trumps the legislative branch. That will be the beginning of the end of the constitutional separation of powers and the Court is next in line to become irrelevant.
The Supreme Court has no role in putting Humpty Dumpty together again. It is not their role to ease the burdens of Americans or to divine what would be better public policy. Their unique burden is to interpret what the law says and decide whether it is constitutional.
If the Court agrees with the president that the words of Obamacare do not mean what they say it will only be a matter of time until their decisions will be construed by a future president to mean “just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”
Feature Image: Shutterstock
TheBlaze contributor channel supports an open discourse on a range of views. The opinions expressed in this channel are solely those of each individual author.