Friday, June 29, 2012

The Supreme Court did Far Worse than Merely Uphold ObamaCare.

Tea Party Tribune ^ | 2012-06-29 12:11:00 | danmillerinpanama

The majority decision distorts the Constitution to uphold ObamaCare.
As bad as ObamaCare is, the decision transcends ObamaCare most perniciously because
it expands the power of the Congress to interfere in countless other ways as yet unknown in how we live our lives.

John Turley today noted that having decided that the ObamaCare individual mandate is outside the authority of the Congress under the Commerce Clause, the Supreme Court found the requisite authority in the congressional authority to tax.
But no sooner had Roberts proclaimed his love for federalism than he effectively killed it. Roberts held that the individual mandate still fell squarely within the taxing authority of Congress. If so, all those "broccoli" questions asked by Roberts and other justices simply move over to the tax side. If Congress can "tax" people for not having health insurance, how about taxes on people who don't have cellphones (as Roberts asked)? Just as there was no clear limiting principle in the commerce clause debate, there is a lack of such a principle in the tax debate. Instead, Roberts simply says the individual mandate is supported by a "functional approach" that has long allowed federal taxes to "seek to influence conduct" by citizens.
. . . .
It is hard to see who will be the ultimate winner from this decision. But the biggest loser is federalism. Roberts lifted it up only to make it an exquisite corpse. In that sense, the decision reads like the funeral speech of another character in Julius Caesar. To paraphrase Mark Anthony, Roberts came to bury federalism, not to praise it.
I agree; however it may be worse than that.
These excerpts from Chief Justice Roberts' majority decision attempt to explain that congressional language to the contrary notwithstanding, the individual mandate is a tax.
Beginning in 2014, those who do not comply with the mandate must make a "[s]hared responsibility payment" to the Federal Government. §5000A(b)(1). That payment, which the Act describes as a "penalty," is calculated as a percentage of household income, subject to a floor based on a specified dollar amount and a ceiling based on the average annual premium the individual would have to pay for qualifying private health insurance.
The Act provides that the penalty will be paid to the Internal Revenue Service with an individual's taxes, and "shall be assessed and collected in the same manner" as tax penalties, such as the penalty for claiming too large an income tax refund.

You did not buy what we told you to.
The decision then tries to explain why the individual mandate, although labeled a "penalty," may be deemed a "tax" because that seems to have been what the Congress desired. The attempted explanation is a tortured one and makes very little sense. However, the precedent has been established. In consequence, the Congress now has wide discretion to regulate almost anything it wishes under its taxing powers. That is illustrated by this portion of the decision:
In making its Commerce Clause argument, the Government defended the mandate as a regulation requiring individuals to purchase health insurance. The Government does not claim that the taxing power allows Congress to issue such a command. Instead, the Government asks us to read the mandate not as ordering individuals to buy insurance, but rather as imposing a tax on those who do not buy that product.
. . . .
Under the mandate, if an individual does not maintain health insurance, the only consequence is that he must make an additional payment to the IRS when he pays his taxes. See §5000A(b). That, according to the Government, means the mandate can be regarded as establishing a condition-not owning health insurance-that triggers a tax-the required payment to the IRS. Under that theory, the mandate is not a legal command to buy insurance. Rather, it makes going without insurance just another thing the Government taxes, like buying gasoline or earning income. And if the mandate is in effect just a tax hike on certain taxpayers who do not have health insurance, it may be within Congress's constitutional power to tax. (Emphasis added.)
The thesis appears to be that just as the Congress can tax the purchase of gasoline, so can it tax the non-purchase of gasoline and therefore the non-purchase of insurance. That does not follow; the Congress has not taxed the non-purchase of gasoline. Nor does the thesis appear to be supported by the other examples cited in the decision -- taxes on the purchase of imported goods to promote the sale of domestic goods, taxes on the purchase of marijuana and tobacco to discourage their use, etc. The Congress has not taxed (previously) the non-purchase of domestic goods or, for that matter, services.
The question is not whether that is the most natural interpretation of the mandate, but only whether it is a "fairly possible" one . . . . The Government asks us to interpret the mandate as imposing a tax, if it would otherwise violate the Constitution. Granting the Act the full measure of deference owed to federal statutes, it can be so read, for the reasons set forth below.
Were I writing a law review article it would be appropriate, as an intellectual exercise, to dissect and criticize the Court's reasoning by citations to prior authority and scholarly commentary. It might also be useful to consider whether the Court's decision will spur to greater activity the Law of Unintended Consequences or whether the effects were actually intended and thought good. However here, for more practical purposes, that is not relevant because the Supreme Court has spoken and what it said will likely remain "the law of the land" until some later Supreme Court changes it.
Continuing from the majority opinion,
If it is troubling to interpret the Commerce Clause as authorizing Congress to regulate those who abstain from commerce, perhaps it should be similarly troubling to permit Congress to impose a tax for not doing something.
The Court then attempts to explain why it does not see that as a problem.
Congress's use of the Taxing Clause to encourage buying something is . . . not new. Tax incentives already promote,for example, purchasing homes and professional educations. See 26 U. S. C. §§163(h), 25A. Sustaining the mandate as a tax depends only on whether Congress has properly exercised its taxing power to encourage purchasing health insurance, not whether it can. Upholding the individual mandate under the Taxing Clause thus does not recognize any new federal power. It determines that Congress has used an existing one.
There are various ways to "encourage" people to do or to refrain from doing things. It has long been considered constitutional to provide tax credits and deductions for purchases deemed desirable. It would be consistent with the Constitution to provide annual tax deductions and credits to people who purchase approved health insurance policies, even in amounts substantially greater than the annual costs of such policies. Whether doing so would be bad policy is not for the Court to determine. However, the imposition of additional taxes on those who do not make such purchases is a novelty. Still, according to the Court, that does not much matter because only money is involved.
[A]lthough the breadth of Congress's power to tax is greater than its power to regulate commerce, the taxing power does not give Congress the same degree of control over individual behavior. Once we recognize that Congress may regulate a particular decision under the Commerce Clause, the Federal Government can bring its full weight to bear. Congress may simply command individuals to do as it directs. An individual who disobeys may be subjected to criminal sanctions. Those sanctions can include not only fines and imprisonment, but all the attendant consequences of being branded a criminal: deprivation of otherwise protected civil rights, such as the right to bear arms or vote in elections; loss of employment opportunities; social stigma; and severe disabilities in other controversies, such as custody or immigration disputes.
By contrast, Congress's authority under the taxing power is limited to requiring an individual to pay money into the Federal Treasury, no more. If a tax is properly paid, the Government has no power to compel or punish individuals subject to it. We do not make light of the severe burden that taxation-especially taxation motivated by a regulatory purpose-can impose. But imposition of a tax nonetheless leaves an individual with a lawful choice to do or not do a certain act, so long as he is willing to pay a tax levied on that choice.
The Affordable Care Act's requirement that certain individuals pay a financial penalty for not obtaining health insurance may reasonably be characterized as a tax. Because the Constitution permits such a tax, it is not our role to forbid it, or to pass upon its wisdom or fairness. (Emphasis added.)
The authority to tax -- the power to destroy -- gives the Congress tremendous power to do stupid as well as wise things. Let's consider a not very farfetched example. Suppose the Congress were to increase the income tax rate by fifty percent for all eligible citizens who fail to vote in a specified Federal election; voting is good and should therefore be encouraged. Perhaps fifty percent is too much; how about ten percent? As to ObamaCare, the Court said, "we need not here decide the precise point at which an exaction becomes so punitive that the taxing power does not authorize it." It would, therefore, be up to the Congress to decide how high is too high and (only maybe) for the Court later to second guess it. That provides slim comfort at best. The Congress could probably accomplish much the same thing by decreasing the tax rate, providing tax credits or tax deductions in whatever amount it might wish for those who do vote, so why should it be unable to increase as much as it might wish the taxes of those who don't vote? Based on the Court's decision, a distinction is far from obvious.
This post merely scratches the surface of what the Congress can now do via its taxing powers to force encourage people to do whatever it, in its infinite wisdom, considers good -- be it good for CongressCriters themselves, for previously deprived U.S. citizens or residents, for the country, for the global environment or for peace on Earth and good will to men.
The power to tax far transcends the power to regulate commerce under the Commerce Clause. The related problems transcend President Obama, the Congress and even ObamaCare itself. Although repealing ObamaCare, defeating President Obama and electing conservatives to the Congress will make many of us happy, that will neither expunge the precedent created by the Court majority nor ensure that no future Congress will do something similar in the health care or any other context. It will not matter (nor should it, based on years of jurisprudence) whether the enactment is bad policy or just plain stupid. As the Chief Justice noted near the beginning the decision,
We do not consider whether the Act embodies sound policies. That judgment is entrusted to the Nation's elected leaders. We ask only whether Congress has the power under the Constitution to enact the challenged provisions.
. . . .
"Proper respect for a co-ordinate branch of the government" requires that we strike down an Act of Congress only if "the lack of constitutional authority to pass [the] act in question is clearly demonstrated." United States v. Harris, 106 U. S. 629, 635 (1883). Members of this Court are vested with the authority to interpret the law; we possess neither the expertise nor the prerogative to make policy judgments. Those decisions are entrusted to our Nation's elected leaders, who can be thrown out of office if the people disagree with them. It is not our job to protect the people from the consequences of their political choices.
That is all true and correct. The Supreme Court does not guard us against absurd congressional policy decisions. As to actions, wise or stupid, that contravene the Constitution we can rely on the Constitution alone, as interpreted by the Court (or perhaps on the veto power of the President) to prevent them. True, we can try to elect to the Congress and to the presidency only people who can be trusted to make wise and fair decisions; how's that been working out? True also, we can also watch how our CongressCritters and President vote and refuse to reelect those with whose decisions we disagree; how's that been working out?
Perhaps a constitutional amendment forbidding the Federal taxation of failures to purchase goods and services would help. Under Article V, an amendment can be proposed by the Congress upon the vote of two thirds of its members or the Congress, "on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, [the Congress] shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments." An amendment proposed by the Congress or by the convention becomes effective as part of the Constitution
when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress;
The Constitution was intentionally made very difficult to amend, and that is a good thing. Unfortunately, good and reasonable amendments are no less difficult to achieve than are bad and frivolous amendments.
The only hopeful aspect of the ObamaCare decision is that it may encourage greater wisdom in electing our CongressCritters and Presidents. I hate to end on a sour note, but how likely does that seem?
First published at Dan Miller's Blog.
Article shared using the Free Republish tool on Tea Party Tribune.

Arresting the Tea Party


Supreme Court Health Care
It is one thing to overturn ObamaCare should we be fortunate enough to A) Have an election (yeah, you heard me), B) Get a GOP President, C) Get a CONSERVATIVE House that will hold Boehner accountable as Speaker to not cave as he did on the budget ceiling debate, and D) get at least 51 votes in the Senate.
But how do we rectify the insane “precedent” set out by Roberts that the judiciary has the right to reclassify – even create – a “tax” that was never written in the original law? Or that you can now be “taxed” for a behavior instead of an economic activity. A current or future liberal congress would tax you going to church or NOT going to a “diversity” class.
We continue to expose just how disconnected the conservative elite are from the rest of us. Supposed “conservatives,” George Will and Charles Krauthammer, try to explain how this makes political sense - either for the future Court or for the GOP. Krauthammer goes as far to call it “the great constitutional finesses of all time.” Sure, if by giving government the right to tax behavior instead of economic transactions “constitutional” I suppose it is ‘great.’ So would “finessing” the lack of ANY documentation for a member of the Marxist New Party to stay unchallenged as being Constitutionally eligible to be President would be. And don’t get me started on the ability of a “conservative” judge to see the word “tax” where it isn’t even written, debated or passed into law by the representatives of the American people when they would have had a chance to stop it as such.
By the logic of King George and King Charles, we should now all be liberals and do what is political expedient instead of what is correct and constitutional. No wonder they hated Gingrich who wanted to actually TRUST the mechanisms of moral law and trust God in their outcome.
Allen Raymond and Kathy Amidon shared a link that is a valuable understand of how the Founders foresaw these challenges and how THEY wanted us to address it. (And those who think we had ANY CANDIDATE more equipped for what has just happened – and what is in front of us – than the former Speaker are blinded by their own bias.)

Newt Gingrich makes 5 key points:

First: The Judiciary is designed to be the LEAST powerful branch of government , and the Legislative was to be the strongest. Not until the 1958 Warren Court was their ANY thought that the Supreme Court had the “last say” in what was and was not Constitutional. Jefferson said (of a Judiciary being “Supreme” over the others), that it “would be an absurdity. That would be an oligarchy.”
In Abraham Lincoln’s 1st Inaugural speech, responding to the Dred Scott decision which declared slavery a Constitutional fact and there was nothing anyone could further do about it, he said, “To believe that 9 people could dictate to the entire nation, the meaning of the Constitution, would be the end of our liberties.”
Second: It is ok for Presidents – on occasion - to ignore the court as Andrew Jackson did over the attempt to institute a Second Bank of the United States. Of course, this means that you have a President that understands the Constitution, and that he or she has a super-heated titanium spine necessary to do what is right, rather than what is politically convenient. (It would be a Constitutionalists wet dream for the GOP Convention in Tampa to rethink Romney and put someone who has demonstrated a walking into fire track record like Gingrich or Palin. Second best would be a VP slot allowing Romney to hide and let them battle it in public opinion.)
Knowing that Roosevelt would not accept a Writ of Habeas Corpus (the right to seek relief from unlawful imprisonment) from the Supreme Court regarding German saboteurs, should give nightmares to us all given the inclinations and actions thus far of this current President. The Constitution reads:
The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety may require it.
No problemo, for us law abiding, Constitution loving, Tea Partiers, right? Don’t forget that alongside the Neo-Nazi's and the Black Separatists, the Department of Homeland Security
“terrorists” as including:
…the “tax resistance movement” – also referred to in the report as the tax protest movement or the tax freedom movement – as “groups or individuals who vehemently believe taxes violate their constitutional rights. Among their beliefs are that wages are not income, that paying income taxes is voluntary, and that the 16th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which allowed Congress to levy taxes on income, was not properly ratified.”
Don’t tell me that our putative President, current choice of the US Communist party, and former member of the Marxist New Party now tied to Cloward and Piven by that same socialist organization - hadn’t planned to ratchet up taxes beyond comprehension. Or that he and his treasonous Trotskyist tribe weren’t preparing for the inevitable conflict with a people whose DNA was created over the same tax issues in 1776. The PP Affordable Care Act proves it. As Limbaugh pointed out yesterday, it is designed for people to pay a very cheap penalty for not going with ObamaCare, robbing the insurance trust of funds needed to run it. It also makes it impossible for a business to compete by paying for more expensive health care plans and dumping employees on the ObamaTaxCare plan. Later, when most insurance companies are out of business or struggling, the penalty dramatically increases as do the stresses on the entire health care industry pressure points. Essentially, you get Greece. I guess those Grecian columns at his inauguration WERE appropriate.
I am no longer timid about tin foil accusations that Obama would suspend Habeas Corpus on arrested Tea Party members, since he is already going back on a pledge to not abuse Executive Orders, a pledge not to raise taxes on the Middle class, and – according to the Attorney General’s of nine states – he has also broken 21 laws and/or Constitutional protections. And that isn’t even including not complying with Congressional subpoena’s, forging committee findings on the Gulf Oil disaster or bypassing Congress on appointments and regulations or law executively. Even the ACLU is now suspecting Obama is abusing his powers.
But a true Constitution-loving President has a Constitutional right to simply protect it and defend it just as the 9 justices do.
Third: As Jefferson did in the Judicial Reform Act of 1802, Congress can write legislation that can not be appealed. It can be REPEALED with either 51 or 60 votes in the Senate. Even the assurance of a Constitutional Amendment isn’t set in stone as we learned in Prohibition. That’s a good thing considering how whimsical our populace has been when it comes to matters of responsibility and morality. But it does make it more difficult to undo both good and bad law.
Fourth: The Congress can attempt to pass a law that defines the meaning of Constitutional concepts such as “Natural Born Citizen” or “Personhood” (as in the case of the 14th Amendment by extending it to unborn children). This of course is what this embedded video to the right suggests when the Democrats attempted to redefine “Natural Born Citizen” between 2003 to 2008. (What it also proves, in my opinion, is that the even the Democrats already KNEW that a natural born citizen had to have two US citizen parents. Ironically, people like Byron York and other CONSERVATIVE NBC naysayers are willing accomplices of this fraud and have no explanation why this would be necessary if it were inherent “fact.”)
We have to regain the view of the Founders that NO law, no interpretation of the law by either court or Congress changes what are “inalienable truths.” The Congress can attempt to define “all men are created equal” to mean “dolphins and monkey’s” but that congressional act wouldn’t make it so. This is why the John Adams said (emphasis mine):
"We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."
There IS empirical truth. Regulating American’s consumption of alcohol might have been thought unconstitutional – which is why they pushed for not just a law – but a Constitutional Amendment. The PEOPLE ROSE UP and decided that it was not “constitutional” and repealed it. The PEOPLE were the Constitution. Not the courts, not the President, and not the Congress.
Monroe, Hamilton, Adams, Jefferson and the like clearly understood that unless a majority of Americans were people of good faith – that is grounded in a common understanding of what “morality” is – no “system” would work since it would create conflict, chaos and confusion. And those elements ALWAYS invite corruption. If a “lie” is not universally held as wrong, then nothing can be counted on as “truth.” And you are back to the whims of King George or King Barack or King “whoever that sits on the court bench.”
This is why we fought the Revolutionary War. And it is why the precedent of the Great Awakening was so critical as our fore-countrymen were retrenched in the fear (holy worship) of God.
So it seems the legislative and Constitutional efforts, as well as the balance of powers, are more of a consensus or barometer of what we agree as a people to be true rather than a specific “writing” or rule that can never be interpreted another way. The Founders left it possible to challenge even the original intent of the Constitution with Amendments. But they were designed to be very difficult so that they couldn’t passed by a corrupt Congress that didn’t reflect the will of the people as ObamaCare did. And this is also why they discussed the need for the President to be born on US soil to two US Citizens. There is an “American” way of freedom that comes from understanding our history, our culture and our responsibility to run our own show.
The power was ALWAYS intended to be with “WE” the people. And this is Gingrich’s point that by challenging those interpretations and directly challenging the court’s definitions, you are re-emphasizing that the ultimate decision rests with the people, not just 9 unelected people.
It also means that, as Jefferson said (paraphrased), that a little revolution every now and then is good for our country. I expect the REASON he thought that, wais, not that conflict itself is good – but it forces those in power to not feel safe in controverting the will of the people and that it helps to re-educate ALL of us on what values we truly want to stand and fight for.
Fifth: The wonderful notion of simply “firing” the 9th Circuit court excites every Christian patriot that was incensed by their ruling that Buddha could be in the class room but Jesus couldn’t. Gingrich admits he isn’t quite this extreme but WOULD shut down the court of the San Antonio judge the said he would arrest anyone using the words “benediction,” “invocation,” “prayer,” or “God,” and put the 9th Circuit on notice.
ALL OF THESE POINTS ARE UNDERLINED WITH ONE SINGLE THEME: We have to quit encouraging the notion that the Supreme Court has the last word on anything.
The Heritage Foundation has a great summation of what was good and bad in the SCOTUS ObamaCare ruling and what to do next. Essentially we all know. Getting Romney elected IS NOT ENOUGH.

I pray that if Mitt Romney wins the GOP nomination and is elected President he reverses his historical inclination to manage his politics by popularity, and has a reawakening of Constitutional values as Newt Gingrich put forth in his speech. I will take every chance to replace Mitt Romney with a Gingrich or Palin should the Lawyers for Ron Paul unlikely succeed in their efforts by Tampa time.
But even were Ronald Reagan’s resurrected spirit to become President, there is so much corruption at EVERY LEVEL of government that we need a CONSERVATIVE (not just Republican) House and Senate, and a leader who will fearlessly press these reforms with prudence.
We don’t just have to remove Barack Obama, but also the hordes of regulations, regulation makers, entrenched bureaucrats, entrenched bureaucratic processes and policies that will still be in place when our nominee is in office.
And only Gingrich has been open about this Herculean task in the primary, admitting that eight years might not be enough. Oddly, many conservatives let the conservative elites dissuade them from one of the only people in our history who was equipped to take this challenge on. Let’s not allow our movement to be saddled with a George Bush 41 repeat for Vice President, that will continue to leave power in the hands of the GOP, corporate and political powers that continue to play the people like peasants – rather than fearing the power the Constitution gave us.

Five Possible Silver Linings in the Obamacare Decision!

 By Timothy Dalrymple 

I have not been as overwhelmed with grief at the Supreme Court’s decision on the Affordable Care Act as some of my fellow conservatives. I was wondering whether I was just being naive, but since I just listened in person to a talk from Paul Clement, who actually argued the case on behalf of the states before the Supreme Court, and his feelings seemed to resonate with my own, I feel a little more confident now to share what might be some of the silver linings in this decision:
1. I know a lot of conservatives are writing now on how the power of the federal government just expanded dramatically, and they may be right. But I think it’s possible that the long term effect will be rather to narrow — not legally but practically and actually — the sphere of government power. First of all, placing the ACA under the Taxation power instead of the Commerce power places greater limits on how that power can be used and dramatically softens the penalty for non-compliance (you simply pay a tax, you cannot be jailed or otherwise punished for failure to purchase health insurance). Congress cannot compel you to purchase insurance; it can only compel you to pay a non-extreme, non-coercive tax if you wish not to purchase insurance. Second, by laying waste to the Commerce Clause argument and making clear that this sort of thing can only be done through the taxation power, the decision may make it harder to pass these sorts of laws in the first place. You cannot hide in the subterfuge of the Commerce Clause — or, if you try, everyone will say, “No, we know better now, this is and must be a tax.” Roberts’ decision will press new social welfare initiatives out of the commerce clause and into the tax code — and passing a new tax is much more difficult as a political matter than passing a new regulation.

2. By placing the ACA under the umbrella of the tax power, Roberts may have made the ACA easier to overturn by several orders of magnitude. The ordinary process, of course, requires 60 votes to overcome a filibuster in the Senate. But when it concerns budgetary matters, including taxes (like the Bush tax cuts), 51 votes are sufficient to put the law on hold for 10 years. So, theoretically, 51 Republicans will be capable now of overturning the ACA at least for ten years (at which point it could be reviewed again). Fifty-one Republicans could have attempted this in any case, but now they can do so with much greater plausibility because this is a matter of taxing and spending and not regulation of commerce.

3. The importance of the ruling on states and Medicaid should not be lost in all of this. The administration’s claim that it could remove all medicaid funding for the states that refused to expand medicaid in the way the administration wants was rejected. The administration can condition new, additional funding on states’ cooperation, but not the preexisting funding. This is a big difference. It will be much easier for states to opt out of the medicaid expansion.

4. The spin war will be interesting to watch. President Obama and his allies clearly did not want to label the mandate as a tax – he denied it in unequivocal terms to George Stephanopolous. Now they will have no choice. President Obama and Congressional Democrats just became the owners of a considerable tax hike – what one of my colleagues is calling “The most deceptive tax increase in American history.” The Obama campaign will frame it as a tax on “the rich” — since you only pay the tax if you are a taxpayer who is capable of purchasing coverage but chose not to purchase it. But look for Republicans to start referring to the “Obamacare Tax.” This is one way in which this can redound to the benefit of Republicans: everyone from Romney on down can now press his opponent with the question, “Are you for the Obamacare Tax or against it?”

5. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, I think this places the central issue of the election very clearly in front of the voters: Do you believe that the government ought to have more power over your life, or do you think it should have less? The Supreme Court is not going to save us against our own poor electoral decisions, if the people we elect go on to pass foolish taxes. Conservatives cannot rely on the Supreme Court as a backstop. So I think you will see the Tea Party movement revived, less focused on internecine battles and more focused again on the fundamental questions of the role of government.

Fast and Furious Noose Tightens Around Justice Department

PJ Media ^ | June 29, 2012 | Andrew C. McCarthy

Explosive reports are now surfacing that Justice Department officials clearly knew about the Fast and Furious “gunwalking” tactic, in which the federal government — actually, a task force comprised of Justice Department agencies and led by ATF, a Justice Department agency — allowed upwards of 1400 illegally purchased firearms to be routed to violent Mexican drug gangs. This recklessness led, quite foreseeably, to the murder of at least one federal agent, Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, and probably a second, Homeland Security Agent Jaime Zapata. There are reportedly also scores of victims in Mexico.
The reports, including this one from Stephen Dinan of the Washington Times, explain that this gunwalking information was contained in applications the Justice Department made to the court for wiretapping authorization beginning no later than March 2010 (i.e., over eight months before Agent Terry was killed). Readers of Ordered Liberty will not be surprised to hear this. As I explained in a post last week:
[T]here were wiretaps in the F&F investigation, and when the government seeks a wiretap, federal law requires it to explain what investigative tactics have been used in the case, an explanation that is vetted by top DOJ officials because the government cannot apply for the wiretap without the approval of the attorney general or his designee (a high Justice Department official) — it seems highly unlikely, assuming DOJ complied with wiretap law, that top Justice Department officials did not know about the gun-walking tactic until late in the game.
In fact, those who have been following the story here and elsewhere may recall that I started urging the wiretap applications as likely a fruitful source of evidence of the Justice Department’s awareness of gunwalking nearly a year ago (see, e.g.,here and here). The required disclosures about investigative techniques are undoubtedly the reason why the Justice Department has stonewalled House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa’s demands that the wiretap applications be turned over.
Issa, however, has whistleblower sources inside DOJ. He’s thus been supplied with at least some of the application materials. He has now made some of that public. Though at least some of the documents are sealed, he published some of their contents during the House debate over the vote to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt. That means he acted under the protection of the Constitution’s Speech and Debate Clause, which immunizes members of Congress for statements and acts connected to legislative activity.
The attorney general, of course, has adamantly denied that he and other top Obama DOJ officials were aware of the use of gunwalking in the Fast and Furious operation until weeks after Agent Terry’s murder. Indeed, in a letter to the Committee in March 2011 (about three months after Agent Terry’s murder), the Justice Department falsely denied that gunwalking had even been used. Holder subsequently “retracted” that falsehood. Moreover, as the public began to be educated about the federal law’s requirements for wiretapping applications, the Justice Department changed its story on that, too. It began claiming that, while it is true the wiretap applications were reviewed by DOJ’s office of enforcement operations, the Department’s top political appointees only perused “summaries” of the applications — which, it was implied, did not allude to gunwalking.
Having worked on and supervised numerous wiretapping investigations in eighteen years as a federal prosecutor in New York, I found these claims implausible. In my experience, the Justice Department reviews wiretap applications from the district U.S. attorney’s offices extremely carefully — Justice is mortally embarrassed if wiretap evidence gets suppressed due to misstatements, errors, or omissions in applications that the Justice Department headquarters has reviewed. Further, because wiretaps are resource-intensive and thus expensive and burdensome to conduct, they tend to be approved only in very important cases — the cases that get a lot of DOJ attention. Finally, Fast & Furious was an “OCDETF case”: the investigation qualified for extraordinary funding and resources under Justice’s Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force — a coveted designation reserved for the Department’s most significant organized crime cases, the cases DOJ tracks most closely. (See here.) It has been inconceivable to me that top DOJ officials would have been unaware of what was happening in Fast and Furious.
In any event, Chairman Issa’s disclosures, as reported by Mr. Dinan, appear to put the lie to much of what Holder and his minions have been claiming. That includes the bit about “summaries”; quite apart from the extreme unlikelihood that wiretap application summaries were top officials’ only source for Fast and Furious information, it appears that even the summaries describe the gunwalking tactic:
The summary of a March 2010 wiretap application shows that federal agents repeatedly lost track of guns they knew were being trafficked back to cartels in Mexico — a violation of Justice Department policy that should have raised red flags with top department officials who signed off on the wiretaps, said Mr. Issa, California Republican and chairman of the oversight committee that is looking into the operation. Mr. Issa introduced the summary as part of the House’s debate Thursday before lawmakers held a historic vote to to hold Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. in contempt of Congress.
Mr. Issa contends the wiretap application contradicts Mr. Holder’s claim that nothing in there would have shown gunwalking was going on. “The affidavit explicitly describes the most controversial tactic of all: abandoning surveillance of known straw purchasers, resulting in the failure to interdict arms,” Mr. Issa said in a letter he placed in the Congressional Record. It appears on pages H4409 through H4411 of Thursday’s official chronicle of its debates.
[Yes, that's right: All of these remarkable revelations happened yesterday, but we are just waking up to them now because, as observed here at Ordered Liberty yesterday, Republican leadership chose to go forward with yesterday's historic contempt finding -- the first ever against a sitting cabinet member -- on the day of the Obamacare ruling, when it was sure to get close to zero attention. Nice work, guys.]
Issa’s revelations, coupled with the contempt holding, will ratchet up the pressure on the Obama administration to quit stonewalling. The committee has been shown only a small fraction of the documents turned over to an internal DOJ inspector general. And, as noted here yesterday, DOJ officials this week — after repeatedly insisting they had already given Issa all relevant information — offered to show the committee more materials, but only on the absurd conditions that investigators not make copies and not take notes, an offer Issa wisely refused.
Also pressing is the question of why President Obama invoked executive privilege to obstruct the investigation if, as he insists, he had no knowledge of Fast and Furious until after Holder shut it down following Agent Terry’s death. It is true, of course, that if new disclosures confirm that the attorney general has been systematically misleading Congress, this will be very damaging to the president who chose Holder and has stood by him during this scandal. But that is nothing compared to the firestorm that would flow from any indications that the White House was clued in to Fast & Furious while the investigation was underway.

Border Patrol union blasts DHS instructions to 'run away' & 'hide' from gunmen

 [O wants cartel in]
Fox News ^ | June 29 2012 | Perry Chiaramonte

Border Patrol agents in Arizona are blasting their bosses for telling them, along with all other Department of Homeland Security employees, to run and hide if they encounter an "active shooter."
It's one thing to tell civilian employees to cower under a desk if a gunman starts spraying fire in a confined area, say members of Tucson Local 2544/National Border Patrol Council, but to give armed law enforcement professionals the same advice is downright insulting. The instructions from DHS come in the form of pamphlets and a mandatory computer tutorial.
“We are now taught in an ‘Active Shooter’ course that if we encounter a shooter in a public place we are to ‘run away’ and ‘hide’" union leader Brandon Judd wrote on the website of 3,300-member union local. “If we are cornered by such a shooter we are to (only as a last resort) become ‘aggressive’ and ‘throw things’ at him or her. We are then advised to ‘call law enforcement’ and wait for their arrival (presumably, while more innocent victims are slaughtered)."
(Excerpt) Read more at ...


Breitbart ^ | 29 Jun 2012, 11:24 AM PDT | HANS VON SPAKOVSKY

The Department of Justice is asserting that the governor of Texas, as well as state legislators, have no executive or deliberative process privilege to shield documents -- even as Eric Holder and President Obama assert executive and deliberative process privilege to shield documents from Congress in its investigation of Fast & Furious. That refusal has already resulted in Holder being held in contempt by the House of Representatives in a 255-to-67 vote that was joined by 17 Democratic representatives.

(Excerpt) Read more at ...

Justice Department shields Holder from prosecution after contempt vote! ^ | 6/29/12 | foxnews

The Justice Department moved Friday to shield Attorney General Eric Holder from prosecution after the House voted to hold him in contempt of Congress.

The contempt vote technically opens the door for the House to call on the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia to bring the case against Holder before a grand jury. But because U.S. Attorney Ronald Machen works for Holder and because President Obama has already asserted executive privilege over the documents in question, it was expected Holder's Justice Department would not take that step.

Deputy Attorney General James Cole confirmed in a letter to House Speaker John Boehner that the department in fact would not pursue prosecution.

The attorney general's withholding of documents pertaining to Operation Fast and Furious, he wrote, "does not constitute a crime."

(Excerpt) Read more at ...

Romney campaign donations hit $4.6 million following health care decision!

The New York Daily News ^ | June 29, 2012 | Kristen A. Lee

In a brief televised statement following the decision, Romney vowed that his first priority upon entering the White House would be repealing the so-called Obamacare law.

President Obama may have won the health care battle at the Supreme Court, but Mitt Romney is claiming a victory in the money wars.

Since the court released its stunning 5-4 decision upholding Obama’s health care law Thursday morning, the Romney campaign has taken in a flood of donations from Republican supporters angry about the ruling.

Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul tweeted Friday that the campaign received more than 47,000 online donations totaling $4.6 million in the 24 hours since the ruling.
The surge in small donations indicates that the decision may be an effective weapon for Republicans to mobilize conservatives for the general election.
In a brief televised statement following the decision, Romney vowed that his first priority upon entering the White House would be repealing the so-called Obamacare law. Despite overseeing similar health care legislation while he was governor of Massachusetts, Romney said Thursday that the federal law “was bad policy yesterday, it’s bad policy today.”
In a surprise move, Chief Justice John Roberts cast the tiebreaking vote that preserved the law’s controversial individual mandate, arguing that it is constitutional as a tax.

Only Voters Can Save America Now: Washington Has Broken With the Concept of Self-Governance

Washington Times ^ | 6/29/2012 | Dr. Milton R. Wolf

The Supreme Court’s Obamacare ruling on Thursday cuts right to the very fabric of the relationship between a once-limited government and a once-free citizen, but the eternal struggle between liberty and tyranny endures. It is a beginning, not an end.

As enormously important as the high court’s Obamacare ruling is - and it’s huge - it’s not the final word. The legal and political dust has not yet settled, and it will take some time for the unpredictable ripples to form the powerful waves of history. Yet, history waits for no man, so we begin by asking:

 What now? First, we mourn. We mourn that a nation built on the principle of limited government has grown the largest government in the history of humankind. We mourn that our Supreme Court rewrote Obamacare into Obamatax to allow for the individual mandate. We mourn that once again we read the lips of a president who promised he would not raise our taxes but did so anyway. We mourn that Washington no longer rules with the consent of the governed.

But this mourning, as appropriate as it is, must be short-lived. This struggle for our liberty, this struggle to abide by the principles of our founding begins anew. We can no longer trust that Washington will save the great experiment of self-governance that is the United States of America. Just as it has always been, the fate of our republic rests in the hands of the voters.

(Excerpt) Read more at ...

Comprehensive List of Obama Tax Increases

American for Tax Reform ^ | 1/20/12 | John Kartch and Ryan Ellis

Since taking office three years ago, President Barack Obama has signed into law twenty-one new or higher taxes on the American people:

1. A 156 percent increase in the federal excise tax on tobacco: On February 4, 2009, just sixteen days into his Administration, Obama signed into law a 156 percent increase in the federal excise tax on tobacco, a hike of 61 cents per pack. The median income of smokers is just over $36,000 per year.
2. Obamacare Individual Mandate Excise Tax (takes effect in Jan 2014): Starting in 2014, anyone not buying “qualifying” health insurance must pay an income surtax according to the higher of the following:
(Exemptions for religious objectors, undocumented immigrants, prisoners, those earning less than the poverty line, members of Indian tribes, and hardship cases (determined by HHS). Bill: PPACA; Page: 317-337)
3. Obamacare Employer Mandate Tax (takes effect Jan. 2014): If an employer does not offer health coverage, and at least one employee qualifies for a health tax credit, the employer must pay an additional non-deductible tax of $2000 for all full-time employees. Applies to all employers with 50 or more employees. If any employee actually receives coverage through the exchange, the penalty on the employer for that employee rises to $3000. If the employer requires a waiting period to enroll in coverage of 30-60 days, there is a $400 tax per employee ($600 if the period is 60 days or longer). Bill: PPACA; Page: 345-346
Combined score of individual and employer mandate tax penalty: $65 billion/10 years

(Excerpt) Read more at ...

Federal workers owe us their taxes (to the tune of $3.4 BILLION!)

South Bend Tribune ^ | June 29, 2012

President Obama is always harping about all Americans paying their fair share of taxes. While it may be legal to have back taxes, the Internal Revenue Service has found that more than 279,000 federal employees and retirees owed $3.4 billion, yes, billion, in back income taxes.

Some members of Obama's executive staff of nearly 1,800 owed the government $833,970 in back taxes.

My first question would be, why does it take 1,800 employees to staff the executive office? Most federal employees are paid much more with better benefits than those who have similar jobs in the private sector. Another question, why do these individuals who owe back taxes still have jobs?

(Excerpt) Read more at ...

Obama Destroys Sovereign States U.S. Constitutional Rights!

Examiner ^ | June 29, 2012 | Kevin Fobbs

So now, it is the federal government that picks and chooses the laws that shall be enforced, and unwarranted privilege is given to the illegal alien criminal to sidestep the law, but all citizens should be wary of crossing the line and daring to pursue their U.S. Constitutional justice. When the lawless decide the laws and the law abiding citizens become the victims of this presidential imposed lawlessness now unleashed upon the nation, every citizen must stand for regaining justice for the citizen, the family and for each and every American.

Justice Scalia is quite clear where he stands on American Constitutional justice. He states firmly, “Neither the Constitution itself nor even any law passed by Congress supports this result,” Scalia firmly stated. “I dissent.”

American patriots, we must regain a solid foothold on justice. On July 4th continue your effort to organize, so that the national political conventions act with diligence on your dissent with its delegates as well as with its leaders to oppose the dilution of the U.S. Constitution. Let dissent become action and action transformed into protecting constitutional, sovereignty and justice, in order to rid America of this “It’s the right thing to do” Obama standard, that negates...

(Excerpt) Read more at ...

Supreme Court strikes down Stolen Valor law

The Supreme Court on Thursday struck down a federal law for which Pomona resident Xavier Alvarez was arrested for lying about receiving the Medal of Honor.
Justices branded his false claim contemptible but nonetheless determined the lies were protected by the First Amendment.
The court voted 6-3 in favor of Alvarez, a former Three Valleys Municipal Water District official who falsely said he was a decorated war veteran.
He pleaded guilty to violating the 2006 law, known as the Stolen Valor Act, which is aimed at people making phony claims of heroism in battle.
The ruling, written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, ordered that the conviction be thrown out.
"Though few might find respondent's statements anything but contemptible, his right to make those statements is protected by the Constitution's guarantee of freedom of speech and expression. The Stolen Valor Act infringes upon speech protected by the First Amendment," Kennedy said.
Justices Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas dissented in the Alvarez case.
"These lies have no value in and of themselves, and proscribing them does not chill any valuable speech," Alito said.
"By holding that the First Amendment nevertheless shields these lies, the court breaks sharply from a long line of cases recognizing that the right to free speech does not protect false statements that inflict real harm and serve no legitimate interest."
Alvarez made his claims by way of introducing himself as an elected member of the Three Valleys Municipal Water District, which encompasses cities in far eastern Los Angeles County from Azusa to Claremont and south to Diamond Bar.
He was later convicted of defrauding the water district for a separate incident and sent to state prison.
"Those poor people who lost their arms and legs and were awarded some kind of a posthumous medal would probably roll over in their graves today," said Vietnam veteran Douglas Swanstrom, 64, of La Verne.

"To me, it's just a slap in the face for everybody that served the country."

After the decision, Swanstrom said he decided to fly his United States flag outside of his home upside down in protest.
"We were certainly very pleased with the court's decision as is Mr. Alvarez," said Alvarez's public defender Jonathan Libby, who spoke to Alvarez after the decision was announced.
"He thanked us for the job we did for him," Libby said.
The Supreme Court had been "very protective" of the First Amendment for a few years now, and its decision was not a surprise to him, said Libby, who added Alvarez has been released from prison.
"This case is consistent with those prior decisions," Libby said. "What the court said (Thursday) was essentially the government doesn't get to be an arbitrator of truth and they can't act as a minister of truth. The government doesn't get to tell us what we can and cannot say. As long as it does not cause harm to another individual or the government."
The conviction will be formally reversed and the $5,000 fine Alvarez paid will be repaid.
His lawyers challenged the law by acknowledging their client's lies, but also insisting that they harmed no one.
Jim Frost, 68, a former mayor of Rancho Cucamonga and Vietnam War veteran, disagreed with Alvarez's lawyers.
"Was anybody harmed? The answer is absolutely," Frost said. "Talk to the people who voted for him."
Frost spoke out against Alvarez during many of the water district's public hearings.
Frost said Alvarez's "deceitful" advertising of being a Medal of Honor winner influenced the electorate to vote for him in the 2007 election over another a more qualified candidate, Luis M. Juarez.
"In my opinion, Alvarez would not be in there had (the voters) known who it was they were voting for. Those folks were harmed," Frost said. "Not to mention Three Valleys was harmed. He was incompetent in making decisions. And the fact he replaced a knowledgable board member based on his lies."
Juan Rodriguez, 80, a Korean War veteran from Pomona, said he felt the decision showed veterans no respect.
"We as Americans fought in the war, and we like to be respected. But people don't respect us," Rodriguez said. "People can lie and cheat and do everything they want ... we're like a bunch of idiots out here. We can't fight it."
Three Valleys water board director Brian Bowcock, whose father was killed during World War II, was on the board with Alvarez and was outspoken against him.
"I'm very upset that's what happened," Bowcock said about the decision.
"But ... life will go on. And people will forget. This whole country will forget but the ones who won't are the families and friends of the recipients of the Medal of Honor. I've lost respect for the Supreme Court."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Reach Wes at via email, call him at 909-483-8549, or find him on Twitter @ClaremontNow.

ONE of my all-time heroes is Diogenes the Cynic,
who spent most of his life chilling in his barrel
outside the city-state of Corinth . He was the original
Cynic because he believed that men and women lived
a life dictated by rules and taboos and therefore no one
was really truthful or honest. Actually Diogenes is my hero
because he was witty, rude, and had little respect for authority.

Republicans launch blitz against obamacare law

By Tom Cohen, CNN

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, center, says Democrats used a
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, center, says Democrats used a "deeply dishonest sales pitch" with the health care law.

  • Opponents target the health care law after the Supreme Court upholds it
  • Sen. Mitch McConnell says President Obama deceived the nation about the law
  • Democrats note that Mitt Romney backed the concept as Massachusetts governor
  • The issue will be the focus of continued sharp debate in the November election
Washington (CNN) -- Republicans launched a blistering attack Friday on the health care reform law upheld by the Supreme Court, seeking to rally their base's opposition to the measure to bolster their fortunes in the November election.
Using the court's finding that the centerpiece of the law -- the individual mandate -- amounted to a legal exercise of congressional taxing power, GOP leaders accused President Barack Obama and Democrats of deceiving the nation about the Affordable Care Act during debate on the measure in 2009 and 2010.
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky led the charge, saying Democrats used a "deeply dishonest sales pitch" to overcome public opposition to the measure back then.
"Nearly every day since then, the promises that formed the heart of that sales pitch have been exposed for the false promises they were," McConnell said on the Senate floor, adding that the Supreme Court decision Thursday provided "powerful confirmation of what may have been the biggest deception of all."
He urged Democrats to stop "trying to defend the indefensible" and join with Republicans to repeal the health care law.
Obama said mandate isn't tax in 2009
Health care questions answered
How will law affect health care costs?
Health care ruling energizes voters

Meanwhile, Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minnesota, a tea party favorite and leading opponent of health care reform, said she and congressional colleagues were sending a letter to state officials urging them not to implement the health care bill until after the November vote.

"All across job creator boardrooms today, decisions are being made by millions of employers to drop the employer covered health insurance," Bachmann claimed Friday on CNN. "... That's why we're telling the states just stop, take a breath, because we're going to turn the economy around after November."
The polarizing law is the signature legislation of Obama's time in office, and opposition to it helped spur the creation of the conservative tea party movement.
Friday's rhetoric by McConnell and other Republicans reflected their shock and anger at the high court decision, which rejected the challenges of opponents who contended the health care law was unconstitutional.
In a 5-4 ruling, the court decided the individual mandate requiring people to have health insurance was valid as a tax, even though it was impermissible under the Constitution's commerce clause.
The most anticipated Supreme Court ruling in years allows the government to continue implementing the health care law, which doesn't take full effect until 2014. That means popular provisions that prohibit insurers from denying coverage for pre-existing medical conditions and allow parents to keep their children on family policies to the age of 26 will continue.
However, Republican opponents of the law's expansion of government vowed to continue fighting to repeal it, with certain presidential nominee Mitt Romney saying that defeating Obama in November is the only way to meet that goal.
Both presidential campaigns are citing fund-raising spikes following the Supreme Court's decision.
Romney's organization said Friday it had raised $4.6 million online, and Obama's operation, while not revealing specific numbers, said it had surpassed that total.
The individual mandate is the linchpin of the health care law signed by Obama in 2010 after an epic brawl in Congress in which no Republicans supported the measure.
Obama has denied the mandate is a tax, including a 2009 interview with ABC in which he compared it to state requirements that motorists carry auto insurance.
"Nobody considers that a tax increase," Obama said then. "People say to themselves, 'that is a fair way to make sure that if you hit my car, that I'm not covering all the costs.' "
At least 4 million people are expected to pay a penalty for not having health insurance when the rule takes full effect in 2016, bringing in about $54 billion to help offset the $1.7 trillion, 10-year cost of the act, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.
It's one of several revenue-raising provisions in the health care law, according to Lawrence Jacobs, a University of Minnesota political scientist and co-author of a 2010 book on the health care battle.
Under the health care law when it is fully implemented in coming years, most Americans will be covered by employee health plans, either their own or that of a head of household, or by existing government programs such as Medicare, Medicaid or veterans' benefits, Jacobs noted.
Of the roughly 6% of the population remaining, a large portion of those will be exempted from the mandate either because of poverty, religious belief or other reasons, he said.
Bachmann's allegation that the health care law would lead to fewer U.S. jobs was challenged on CNN by Democratic Gov. Jack Markell of Delaware.
"If they're not hiring, it's because they don't have demand," Markell said. "What they care most about when they're deciding whether to hire is where do they have access to the greatest work force. I mean, these charges are just ridiculous."
Democrats also noted that Romney, as governor of Massachusetts, implemented an individual mandate similar to the concept in the federal law.
Romney contends the Massachusetts law was tailored to the state's needs, and that such a solution was improper at the federal level. He called the law known as Obamacare bad policy and a bad law on the federal level.
That didn't stop Democratic Rep. Steve Israel of New York from noting on CNN that Romney "actually defended what he called a penalty" during his term as Massachusetts governor.
"Not my words, Mitt Romney's words, were the free riders -- who chose not to get health insurance but shift those costs onto society -- need to pay their fair share," Israel said. "I didn't call them free riders. Mitt Romney did."
In Thursday's majority opinion, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote that "the federal government does not have the power to order people to buy health insurance. ... The federal government does have the power to impose a tax on those without health insurance."
Roberts joined the high court's liberal wing -- Justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan -- in upholding the law.
Four conservative justices -- Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy and Clarence Thomas -- dissented.
"To say that the individual mandate merely imposes a tax is not to interpret the statute but to rewrite it," the dissenting justices wrote in their opinion. "Imposing a tax through judicial legislation inverts the constitutional scheme, and places the power to tax in the branch of government least accountable to the citizenry."
An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released Tuesday indicated that 37% of Americans would have been pleased if the law had been found unconstitutional, compared with 28% who would have been pleased if it had been found constitutional. And the poll of 1,000 U.S. adults found that nearly four in 10 surveyed would have "mixed feelings" had the justices struck down the whole law.
Obama, in televised remarks, called Thursday's Supreme Court ruling a victory for the nation.
He used the focus on the issue to spell out the benefits of the law that remains unpopular with many Americans. The principle upheld by the high court's ruling is that no American should go bankrupt because of illness, the president said.
"I know the debate over this law has been divisive," Obama said. "It should be pretty clear that I didn't do this because it was good politics. I did it because I believe it is good for the country."
He said the country can't afford "to refight the political battle of two years ago or go back to the way things were."
House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California, who helped push through the law when she was House speaker, cited the late Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts, a longtime proponent of health care reform who died before the bill became law.
"Now he can rest in peace," she told reporters, echoing what she'd earlier told Kennedy's widow by phone.
In his opinion, Roberts appeared to note the political divisions, writing that "we do not consider whether the act embodies sound policies."
"That judgment is entrusted to the nation's elected leaders," the opinion said. "We ask only whether Congress has the power under the Constitution to enact the challenged provisions."
The narrow focus of the ruling on key issues such as the individual mandate -- limiting it to taxing powers rather than general commerce -- represented the court's effort to limit the government's authority.
"The framers created a federal government of limited powers and assigned to this court the duty of enforcing those limits," Roberts wrote. "The court does so today."
In another part of Thursday's decision, the high court ruled that a part of the law involving Medicaid must change.
The law calls for an expansion of eligibility for Medicaid, which involves spending by the federal government and the states, and threatens to remove existing Medicaid funding from states that don't participate in the expansion. Thursday's ruling said the government must remove that threat.