Constitution

Nancy Pelosi Once Sneered At Questions About ObamaCare's Constitutionality? That Must Mean the Law Is Constitutional!

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How strong is the case for the constitutionality ObamaCare's individual mandate? So strong that Slate legal columnist Dahlia Lithwick barely feels the need to need to make a case at all.

How does she know it's so strong? Because Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi once made a derisive remark in response to early concerns about the law's constitutionality. So of course it must be constitutional, and obviously so.

Really. This is her argument

That the law is constitutional is best illustrated by the fact that—until recently—the Obama administration expended almost no energy defending it. Back when the bill passed Nancy Pelosi famously reacted to questions about its constitutionality with the words, "Are you serious?" And the fact that the Obama administration rushed the case to the Supreme Court in an election year is all the evidence you need to understand that they remain confident in their prospects. The law is a completely valid exercise of Congress' Commerce Clause power, and all the conservative longing for the good old days of the pre-New Deal courts won't put us back in those days as if by magic. Nor does it amount to much of an argument.

Derision does not amount to much of an argument either. Rather than illustrate the law's constitutionality, Pelosi's snide remark illustrates how eager the law's defenders have always been to dismiss questions about its constitutionality, as well as their consistent unwillingness to take challenges to the law seriously. That the law's political proponents refuse to take those challenges seriously, however, does not necessarily make them unserious. 

Lithwick also cites a New York Times essay by Linda Greenhouse arguing that the law is clearly constitutional. Lithwick writes that Greenhouse makes the case for the law's constitutionality "more eloquently than I can." Yet as I noted yesterday, Greenhouse's primary point is that the arguments against the law are so weak that they barely need to be addressed, and that the law is therefore obviously constitutional. 

In asserting the inherent strength of the constitutional argument for ObamaCare's mandate, the law's defenders are revealing the weakness of their own case. 

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93 responses to “Nancy Pelosi Once Sneered At Questions About ObamaCare's Constitutionality? That Must Mean the Law Is Constitutional!

  1. A Democratically appointed appeals court judge in Atlanta took them seriously enough to consider it unconstitutional.

    The US Supreme Court took it seriously enough to devote 5 1/2 hours to arguments on the case.

    1. The reason the Obama admin let the case accelerate to supreme court now is because they WANT it overturned. It’s a win-win for them if the case is overturned. They can claim they were foiled by evil forces against them and at the same time lessen the hatred of all those who oppose the law. There is no doubt whatsoever the Obama team wants the court to strike the law down. ONly the useful idiots writing op-eds defending their Jesus fail to see this.

      1. Eh … I think you’re wrong.
        The healthcare law is Obama’s signiature legislative accomplishment. They are praying that once it goes fully into effect, it will become as popular as Social Security and Medicare, and be impossible to dismantle. Particularly, once the subsidies go into effect.

        Also, Obama didn’t really accelerate it. When it was overturned by the 11th Circuit court, part of the condition of allowing the administration to continue implementing it was that they file an appeal immediately. Otherwise, the law would have been struck down in it’s entirety.

        The split decision between the 11th and 6th circuit ensured it would go to the Supreme Court. The court’s decision to hear the case immediately was a surprise, but I don’t see any evidence that the administration pushed it.

  2. The law is constitutional because anyone who says it isn’t is a poo-poo head.

    1. “It’s right here, clear as purple crayon!”

      “Well you are quite the poo-poo head.”

    2. The law is constitutional because anyone who says it isn’t is a poo-poo head.

      I thought we were racists?

      1. racist == poo poo head.

    3. No, it’s constitutional if enough judges say so.

      This is about power. If people like me have been successful in getting POTUSes that in turn appoint the correct judges, the PPACA will be upheld. If people like you have had more political power, you win.

      No one is ‘right’ here, because a winner won’t care if he didn’t win ‘fairly’ and the loser won’t exactly be cheerful over his ‘moral victory’.

      We supporters of PPACA couldn’t care less about autistic legal wrangling or the metaphysics of government providing healthcare. We don’t think taxes or government are ‘evil’ and we don’t think government is ‘good’ either. You libertarians are making this a metaphysical discussion, but we don’t care. If we win, we win, and if we deserve to or not is beside the point.

      But you go on worrying about the government forcing you to buy broccoli.

  3. Pelosi’s snide remark illustrates how eager the law’s defenders have always been to dismiss questions about its constitutionality, as well as their consistent unwillingness to take challenges to the law seriously. That the law’s political proponents refuse to take those challenges seriously, however, does not necessarily make them unserious.

    Question: how bad is it gonna suck if the law stands? How will you put up with the strutting and crowing of your liberal friends?

    1. Same way we did when Hopey McChange got elected: wait until it implodes on itself.

    2. I imagine I’ll start a pretty serious pill habit.

      1. Looks like I picked the wrong week to stop sniffing glue.

        1. A-HA!! Never stop sniffing glue and all is well…

          So I hear, anyway.

    3. As Hugh states above, if this is ruled constitutional the implosion economically will be akin to a nuclear detonation.

      The idea that congress can better manage 1/5th of the economy than the market is absurd on its face, and the reality will play out horribly.

      1. As Hugh states above, if this is ruled constitutional the implosion economically will be akin to a nuclear detonation.

        No it won’t. When it impolodes, it will be the tiny island of capitalism poisoning the sea of progressive healthcare goodness.

        The failure will be that the law didn’t go far enough.

        If you don’t believe me, look no further than England’s NHS, or Canada’s system. As they implode, and in Canada’s case, even have their supreme court rule against their systems, they still drive on in their conviction that top-down, central control will work.

        1. Agree. When Obamacare sinks to the bottom straight out of the slip, Team Blue will come back with a single-payer reform that is twice as heavy, three times the size, and has six thousand hulls.

          1. And when the fails they’ll cry, “Why didn’t it have six thousand and one hulls?”

            1. And when the fails they’ll cry, “Why didn’t it have six thousand and one hulls?”

              No, they’ll scream “deregulation!” because some republican in the minority slipped in a small, obscure process reform in a 4000 page bill somewhere.

              We’re Europe, gentlemen.

              I mean, just look at Greece. Is there a more clear-cut case of economic failure? And yet still Greece won’t stop poisoning itself.

            2. And when the fails they’ll cry, “Why didn’t it have six thousand and one hulls?”

              The streets are extended gutters and the gutters are full of blood and when the drains finally scab over, all the vermin will drown. The accumulated filth of all their sex and murder will foam up about their waists and all the whores and politicians will look up and shout “Save us!”… and I’ll look down and whisper “No.”

              1. I’m not locked in here with you.

                YOU’RE LOCKED IN HERE WITH ME.

                1. If Obamacare happens: when it fails, they will blame everyone and everything but the actual program.

        2. As they implode, and in Canada’s case, even have their supreme court rule against their systems, they still drive on in their conviction that top-down, central control will work.

          Oh I agree, I’m not saying that the inevitable economic implosion will convince people that top-down central control doesn’t work -because as you said it sure as hell hasn’t woken anyone up in England or Canada- I’m just saying that the economic consequences will be devastating.

          For instance, no more privately run efficient minute clinics that can quickly diagnose and treat non-life threatening illnesses. They will be forced to fall under the Mediscam umbrella and then the CVS’s of the world will realize it isn’t profitable so they will pull out.

          That’s just one example. Imagine the effects on medical innovation as well.

          Good god.

          1. Imagine the effects on medical innovation as well.

            Good god.

            My dreams of immortality are in danger.

            1. In the world the progrsso-tards are making, would you really want to live forever anyway?

    4. Pelosi et al’s reaction demonstrates that a large minority of politically active people think the US government is limitless and are ok with that.

  4. “Harrumph, harrumph! Hey, I didn’t get a ‘harrumph’ out of you…”

    1. You watch your ass!

  5. That the law is constitutional is best illustrated by the fact that ? until recently ? the Obama administration expended almost no energy defending it.

    Ah, what a great argument. “I don’t owe you money because you haven’t been harassing me to collect it.”

    1. “I don’t owe you money because you haven’t been harassing me to collect it I haven’t been answering your calls.”

      1. Much more accurate.

    2. First, its obviously Constitutional because Obama couldn’t be bothered to defend it.

      Then, its obviously Constitutional because Obama rushed it to the Supreme Court.

      I think you have to pick one of these, Dahlia.

      1. Why?

        I make it up as I go along! It could be said that I am to legal issues what Paul Krugman is to economics…a hack partisan moron!

  6. Given how far the Commerce Clause has been stretched and the deference the SCOTUS has given to previous congressional expansions, I fear that they deriders are probably right.

    (I’m not saying that it is in accord with the US Constitution, I am just saying that the SCOTUS will say that it is.)

    1. Agree. I have a feeling that the actual Constitutionality of Obamacare won’t be much of an issue when SCOTUS makes its decision.

      1. SCOTUS only looks at the Cliff Notes, which read:

        Congress has the power to pass any law necessary and proper to regulate commerce and promote the general welfare.

    2. Take a look at the previous H&R post and read how MNG makes the “regulate commerce among the States” to mean “Congress shall have the power to make people engage in commerce where none existed previously.”

      1. Old Mexican,

        You are right. Now change the word “commerce” with “murder” and it gets absurd pretty quickly.

      2. Please don’t summon the Mingey/Krakken on this one again.

        It’s tiring to argue someone who refuses to use logic in their argument.

      3. At least give MNG for putting in more effort than the Obama administration.

    3. That’s pretty much where I am.

      Under the Commerce Clause as written, its pretty obviously unconstitutional.

      Under the SCOTUS cases signing off on Congressional regulation of the economy, its probably Constitutional.

    4. Given how far the Commerce Clause has been stretched …

      About as far as old Nancys cobweb draped cooze!

    5. Given how far the Commerce Clause has been stretched and the deference the SCOTUS has given to previous congressional expansions, I fear that they deriders are probably right.

      The the constitution will be dead.

  7. I am afraid you are probably right. If only the constitution were more clear in its wording.

    1. BAAARRRFFF

  8. This is liking asking a thief if he broke the law. Of course he’s going to say no. Similarly, ask any congresscritter if the law they just voted for is constitutional and they’ll say yes. The alternative is for the Honorable Botox to admit the law is unconstitutional, which leaves her with the messy problem of justifying why she voted for it. No, you brazen it out and “Of course it’s constitutional!”

    And the fox belongs in the henhouse, too. He always crashes there when it gets cold.

    1. the Honorable Botox

      Heh heh heh. That’s good.

    2. I call the ugly bag of mostly botox, err, I mean, the “Honorable” Nancy Pelosi…

  9. Would I be this disingenuous if SCOTUS had the opportunity to hold something that I really liked even though in my heart of hearts I knew it was unconstitutional?

  10. Understand what is going on here. Greenhouse and Lithwick are laying the groundwork for a political call to arms.

    If you thought the hysterical reaction to Citizens United was over the top, wait until you see what happens if the Supreme Court strikes down Obamacare months before the election. Team Blue will declare such a jihad on the Court that the Roosevelt Court Packing Plan will look pale by comparison. The Justices will be derided as activist partisan political hacks who let their desire to serve their supposed Big Business masters stand before “doing the right thing.”

    And the starting point is for Team Blue to now assure their base that there is no legitimate basis for striking down the mandate, so if Obama loses, the screams of outrage will follow.

    1. But it’s not even a popular law.

      1. Not outside the Team Blue base.

      2. At this point the Democrats are desperate to bridge the enthusiasm gap. Moving the case to before the election is a set up to try to get the disheartened base to the polls.

    2. Good point.

    3. wait until you see what happens if the Supreme Court strikes down Obamacare

      I hate to say it, but I don’t think that will happen.

      1. It may not. But it is in no way the slam dunk that the Obamacare defenders say that it is.

        1. I don’t think it as much of a slam dunk as just inevitable.

      2. If you strike me down I shall become more powerful than you can imagine.

  11. The left doesn’t really have many intellectual arguments for their economic policies any more, just emotional ones. Their only weapon is derision.

    1. Was it ever different?

      1. They could at least claim it to be, until reality crushed their dreams into sand.

      2. They’re a bit embarrassed about trotting out that stuff about the surplus labor value of the proletariat these days.
        They leave that to people like Newt Gingrich, who has none.

    2. I don’t think either Team has much going for it in terms of intelligence. When they are out of power it’s all emotional appeals (Ricky Cumfart) and bombast (n00t). When they are in power, they don’t really feel like they have to justify themselves, so it’s just rank arrogance.

      1. Conservatism originated as an appeal to the emotions. Tradition, religion, and country. You would expect less intellectualism from them.

        Leftists claimed the smart set high ground. They have long since mentally vacated it, whatever their current pretensions.

        1. That’s because those leftists were libertarians, not whackjobs.

    3. ^^This^^

  12. I though she sneered and declined to answer because she has never heard of this “constitution” thing you weirdos keep talking about.

  13. The comments after her article burn my eyes.

  14. I’m trying to remember how the Left reacted when conservatives shrugged off the constitutionality questions about the Patriot Act, Guantanamo, waterboarding, etc.

    1. I think they said, “Just wait till we get the White House back, then we’ll…uh, um. Hey what’s going in Libya?”

  15. I’m getting the strangest sense of deja vu. It’s almost as if the libtard media echo chamber is getting its story in synch.

    The Obamacare challenges aren’t serious enough to warrant a response, it’s consitutional because Skeletor and Black Jesus say it is. etc.

    One other thing:
    And the fact that the Obama administration rushed the case to the Supreme Court…

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought the President didn’t have any say over whether or not or when the Supreme Court decides to take up a given a case. Did I miss something? Was there a constitutional ammendment that gave the executive branch authority over the court’s docket?

    1. We don’t need no stinkin’ ammendments!

    2. To correct the article, it was actually Judge Hull in Atlanta who made sure that it got to SCOTUS quickly, because he refused to sever the mandate unless the government filed an appeal to his ruling within 30 days.

      That was to prevent the government from dragging it’s feet in the courts while pushing the states to implement the exchanges. Maybe also to hope that after the mandates and subsidies went into effect the law would get more popular.

    3. I vaguely recall some maneuvering around the appeal that the administration did to ensure it got into the docket for this year’s session.

  16. Many defenders of “Obamacare” are likely climate alarmists as well.

    Their mode of argumentation is very similar.

    They are trying to form a consensus that “Obamacare” is constitutional.

  17. the arguments against the law are so weak that they barely need to be addressed

    Makes sense to me. If the arguments needed addressing, they would be strong!

    1. See… circular reasoning works because circular reasoning works.

  18. The law is a completely valid exercise of Congress’ Commerce Clause power

    🙂

    1. When I get my time machine running, your ass is disappearing from the Constitution.

      1. Shame you never got that time machine.

  19. Not only will it be ruled constitutional, but a decade from now when congress finally scraps the law, getting rid of it will be ruled unconstitutional.

    1. That’s seriously depressing.

      /sad

  20. This analysis is funny because the defender doesb’t even realize that the Obama administrations’ BEST OUTCOME is that the law is overturned. Hahaha. What useful idiots they are.

  21. Mindless, Mr. Suderman, just mindless. Dahlia cited several sources, several conservative judges, and one conservative former Reagan official all calling it constitutional. She cited an ABA poll of legal scholars showing 85% of respondents thought the law was unconstitutional.

    Which leads me to wonder, did you read it all? It was two pages on my computer and you apparently couldn’t read any more of it after seeing Mrs. Pelosi’s name?

    Libertarian = Only having to read the first paragraph.

    PS She also directed readers to Randy Barnett’s bs formulations. I really expected better of one so dedicated to the liberty of the wealthy

    1. The only authority on the matter is James Madison.

  22. With the gubmint’s stellar management of Amtrak, the USPS,Social Security, the DoE, BATF, the Dept. Of Education, Gov’t Motors and other mega bureaucracies what do we possibly have to worry about? In Barry, Harry and Nancy we trust.
    Or am I just a poo poo head? Ralphie

  23. All Power to the Imagination!

  24. Lets hit it dude, Seriously.

    http://www.True-Privacy.tk

  25. When it comes to the PPACA and the climate, libertarians are indistinguishable from the “people” in Mississippi who think Obama is a muslim.

    1. Ah, false equivalence. Never gets old. Thanks for playing the game of “Desperation!”

      1. No, you really are. I’ve seen comments at places like Hotair and Runnin’ Scared and other hard-line right-wing blogs, and I’ve seen the comments at this shoddy place.

        When it comes to climate change and the PPACA, you libertarians and the wingnuts are *indistinguishable*, although I imagine the libertarian commenters make less writing errors and have more teeth and less grey hairs between themselves.

        Reason.com is a very shitty libertarian website. The people here read enough about matters to make basic defenses of libertarian puritanism and you all know what a “Leviathan” is (I don’t, and I don’t care) but no one is a very good representative for libertarianism.

  26. My impression of the linked article is that the Blue Team apparatchiks are already forming a narrative to claim that they were screwed if the SCOTUS doesn’t uphold Obamacare.

    So let’s start by setting forth two uncontroversial propositions.

    The first proposition is that the health care law is constitutional. The second is that the court could strike it down anyway … to deprive the Obama of one of his signature accomplishments.

    They are already making excuses.

  27. This fucking whore doesn’t deserve to even use the word “constitution” in a sentence, let alone claim that obummercare is ironclad constitutionally.

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