The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the most important piece of legislation enacted in past years, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, resisting pressure from conservative ideologues to overturn a law that was passed by a majority of the U.S. House of Representatives, a supermajority in the U.S. Senate, and signed by a duly elected president.
The grounds for the decision were less important than the fact that the court understood it had to take seriously its frequently cited, but often ignored, commitment to judicial restraint.
There were a variety of ways to justify the most contentious provision of the law, the individual mandate. The Commerce Clause was one, the power to levy taxes another. The court ruled the mandate could “be read to do more than impose a tax. This is sufficient to sustain it.”
Standing behind any particular constitutional provision was the recognition that Congress and the president have the obligation to “promote the general welfare” and that such general welfare is not promoted by a system that left almost 50 million Americans without affordable access to health care.
Most Americans do not share the tea party’s hostility to federal government programs that bind us together. Americans love Medicare…