Supreme Court v. democracy
Published: Monday, April 23, 2012
Updated: Monday, April 23, 2012 17:04
Last month, we witnessed the conservative majority of the U.S. Supreme Court resort to foolish sophism.
Justice Antonin Scalia, the intellectual leader of the conservative majority, equated the broccoli market with the health insurance market. He asked, “If the government can require Americans to buy health insurance, can it require them to buy broccoli?”
The issue is the limit of federal power. In a functioning democracy, government power is checked by Congress. No sane majority in Congress would let an extreme few pass a “broccoli purchase mandate.”
If Congress abandons reason and passes such a law, we should expect the reason and humanity of the Supreme Court to strike it down as unconstitutional. Unfortunately, what Justice Scalia said shows the dictatorial tyranny of a prejudiced judiciary over a democratic Congress and president.
An insurance market is fundamentally different from a broccoli market.
If you do not buy broccoli, you will not hurt, economically or emotionally, those broccoli-loving persons’ consumption of broccoli. Nor could broccoli-eaters force non-broccoli-eaters to pay for their consumption.
The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, has advocated for some time that the individual mandate of health insurance is the social responsibility of any democratic individual.
Otherwise, we would invite free loaders to game the insurance system by trying to buy it only when they become ill. To discourage such gaming, any insurance company would charge the subscribers exorbitant premiums and refuse to cover high-risk persons.
This is exactly what American insurance companies have done and left 50 million Americans uninsured. They have rejected individuals with “pre-existing conditions,” exploded government budget deficits and debased health care quality for the 99% of Americans.
Left free to dominate the market, these few monopolistic insurance companies have emerged and abused their power over markets.
This is not the first time that the Supreme Court majority has pandered to the irrational fear and greed of outside groups.
In January 2010, the Supreme Court majority ruled that corporations are “persons,” permitting them to exercise their right of “freedom of speech.”
Big corporations and extremely wealthy individuals, like the Koch brothers, have since poured unrestricted amounts of money into political lobbying to bend federal and state policies to their liking. The democratic bedrock of “one person, one vote” was destroyed and has been replaced by “one dollar, one vote.”
The extremely wealthy have garnered over 23 percent of the national income and pay very little taxes. The National Rifle Association has spread to other states the example of Florida’s notorious “Stand Your Ground Law” that enabled a self-appointed armed vigilante to gun down an unarmed 17-year old African American boy on a public road.
The U.S. has ceased to be a beacon of democracy for the world.