One of the messages from the Supreme Court decision on the Affordable Care Act on Thursday got lost. It came directly from the Chief Justice himself in the decision; Keep your political fight among the politicians, not in the court.
You didn’t see that? It’s right here: ”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.”
Now, I am not a constitutional scholar but I read that as “if you disagree with the actions of your elected officials… throw them out of office in the next election.” As fortune would have it, a person who understands the law very well and who previously worked with the Chief Justice spoke on Rachel Maddow’s show Thursday night:
Neal Katyal, former acting U.S. Solicitor General said this:
“You saw not just the Chief crossing party lines but also Justices Kagan and Breyer also doing so today to strike down a piece of the affordable care act as unconstitutional and so I think ultimately what this decision is, is a resounding victory for the rule of law. Of the idea that, let’s all take a step back and view this stuff apolitically and just as matters of straight up law and you know if Republicans are right and the affordable care act is bad law, repeal it but don’t run to the courts every time you don’t like something and try to get it struck down as unconstitutional.”
So the Chief Justice likely included a message to politicians who would bring their dislike of laws to the court to be overturned when turnover of elected officials isn’t an option: don’t do it.
“When a court confronts an unconstitutional statute, its endeavor must be to conserve, not destroy, the legislation”
So again, “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.”
Or as I would have put it… Elections have consequences, so register to vote and then vote.