If there is anything comforting about the impending decision on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, is something that Charles Lane said in an article he wrote that appeared in The Washington Post:” …the United States periodically redefines the role of the federal government in society, in a process that is both political and legal — and, sometimes, more revolutionary than evolutionary. In that sense, we do have a “living Constitution.” (http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/charles-lane-redefining-american-government-through-obamacare/2012/06/25/gJQAdmIp2V_story.html).
What people want, or what we are taught to believe, that out of the three branches of the federal government, there is one branch, the judicial branch, that we can count on to interpret the law according to the Constitution, politics aside.
But that hasn’t been the case, and Lane quotes Akhil Amar, a professor of constitutional law at Yale University, who said that if the Court comes down against the Affordable Care Act by a margin of 5-4, it will show that it is not objective, but that it is bound by politics, party loyalty, money and party.
As a student of history, I have read of cases in which the High Court was not an agent for “the least of these;” I still shudder when I think of the wording Chief Justice Roger Taney used in the Dred Scott case. As part of the African-American community, I have yearned for a government that has been willing to live up to its ideals of being a government “of the people, by the people and for the people.”
What some Americans come to realize is that the government really advocates on behalf of “some” of the people, and some High Court decisions have validated that opinion.
Be that as it may, there is always a flicker of hope that in the end, no matter where else injustice may dwell, it will not be sanctioned by the United States Supreme Court. And so, when the Court shows its colors of party loyalty and politics, there is a collective sigh of dismay. If not even the highest court in this land sees “all of the people,” who will?
Perhaps my own state of mind is related to an erroneous way I have perceived America and the concept of democracy. I was taught – and I believed – that a democracy was different from other forms of government. I believed that that meant American democracy had a tradition of egalitarianism. I believed that our democracy prided itself on “all” being equal.
That is not the case, however. All people in a democracy, more accurately a capitalistic democracy, are not supposed to be equal. Those who have get more and those who do not have…get less, and are chided for wanting what they see is possible.
At the end of the day, it seems that the United States Supreme Court justices are not people who believe in the make-believe of “justice for all.” The laws of this nation were not set up to protect “all” people and I guess it is the work of the court to protect those laws, not “all” of the people.
So, I am bracing myself for the Court’s decision on health care. I am hoping that the gains made by the passage of the bill will not be lost; it is amazing that 46 million more people have health insurance because of this bill. It is inconceivable to me that a nation that is supposed to be so concerned with the treatment of people in other countries seems to be so callous when it comes to dealing with its own poor.
If I hadn’t had such good civics and social studies teachers, who taught me that America was probably the only country in the world that cared about the rights and care of everyone, perhaps I wouldn’t have been so disappointed, time and again, when the High Court has not come off as the protector of America’s underclass, poor, and working poor.
Perhaps part of the issue, or my issue, with the Court is that it cannot let the Constitution breathe – it cannot allow that the Constitution is a live, living document, like Professor Akhil Amar said. Times change and so do the needs of the people and of the nation. Shouldn’t the law, even the Constitution, allow for that? Would the Founding Fathers have been pleased with a democracy where 46 million people didn’t have health care?
I’m blessed to have health care. I sure hope that by this time tomorrow, people who recently got access to health care after not having been able to afford it are not wringing their hands in despair, pushed yet again to the curb in the name of politics.
It would be the saddest thing ever…
A candid observation