SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES
NATIONAL FEDERATION OF INDEPENDENT
BUSINESS ET AL. v. SEBELIUS, SECRETARY OF
HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, ET AL.
CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE ELEVENTH CIRCUIT No. 11-393. Argued March 26, 27, 28, 2012
ARIZONA ET AL. v. UNITED STATES
CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE NINTH CIRCUIT No. 11-182. Argued April 25, 2012
CHIEF JUSTICE’S ROUGH DRAFT – DO NOT DISTRIBUTE
In 2010, Congress enacted the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in order to increase the number of Americans covered by health insurance and decrease the cost of health care. An Arizona statute known as S. B. 1070 was also enacted in 2010 to address pressing issues related to the large number of unlawful aliens in the State. What do these two things have in common? Well, the Court submits that both laws seek to define the nature and character of what we generally refer to as an American, and in a little-known article tacked onto the Constitution by Daniel Webster, the responsibility of maintaining this definition is handed to the Court at any point in time in which the opinions of a majority of Americans are overpowered by an especially pushy and well-funded minority.
At the time of its passage, Americans found the Affordable Care Act to be a positive thing, by a margin of 49 percent to 401. And yet, by the time the Court ruled on the law, 72% of those polled felt the (misnamed) “individual mandate” provision of the ACA was “unconstitutional.2” Which the Court finds kind of funny, being that less than a third of Americans have actually read the thing3. Because you know who has eighteen thumbs and has totally read the Constitution? These guys. Well, more than a third of us, anyway. And we tend to believe that a non-stop flurry of talking points, scare tactics, and misinformation had much more influence on public opinion than anything found in Ol’ Connie (yeah, we nicknamed the Constitution. Jealous?).
Even those who favor repealing the ACA don’t generally believe the entire thing should be scrapped. Less than 1 percent of those polled felt that the coverage of those with pre-existing conditions and young adults under 26 should be revoked4. Which means that 99 percent of people agree with these two landmark reforms. And if memory serves, there hasn’t been 99 percent agreement on any provision of any law since the historic passage of the Cake at Birthday Parties Act of 1827.
Likewise, two thirds of Americans believe that immigration is a good thing for the country5. Now, asked specifically about border patrols and paper-checks and other methods of enforcing immigration laws, people tend to get a little less generous, but at heart, we are a nation that remembers, way back in our collective conscience, that we’re all immigrants. Well, except for Maricopa County, Arizona’s Sheriff Joe Arpaio, whose ancestors sprung fully formed from the Statue of Liberty’s torch. (What, the Court can’t be sarcastic?)
So here’s the deal. You can’t arrest undocumented immigrants for trying to get a job. You can’t set immigration policy on a state-by-state basis, because guess what? It’s a state. You can’t immigrate to a state. No one ever got on a boat and travelled for five months in filthy, overcrowded conditions to immigrate to Alabama.
And for those lucky enough to be born here, who never for a day have to worry about a traffic stop turning into a thousand-mile one-way trip, our responsibilities are even greater. If we are going to hold ourselves up as an example among nations, we better act like one. And step one is providing access to medical care for every citizen. We’re sure sorry that means that some healthy libertarians and off-the-grid homeopaths may have to pony up a few hundred bucks to remain insurance-free, but if the “mandate” eats at your conscience and sense of autonomy, consider it a tax that pays for you to be protected from the roaming gangs that would be fighting you for your land in any other country that doesn’t have national health care. (Okay, sometimes the Court exaggerates a little. But still.)
From the earliest peoples traveling across the Bering Strait from the mother continent to the immigrant workers upholding today’s industry, our very existence as a country depends on the transfer of individuals from other places to this one. And our continued esteem as a country depends on joining ourselves together for the collective good and assuring that something as basic as physical health is considered a right for all and not a privilege for some.
For centuries, citizens of other lands have risked their lives to find better ones here. In this country. In our America. Some of them were our ancestors, some of them are our neighbors. We owe it to all of them to make it worth the trouble.
1 USA TODAY/Gallup, Mar. 24, 2010
2 USA TODAY/Gallup, Feb. 20-21, 2012
3 National Survey of Americans' Awareness and Understanding of the Constitution and Constitutional Concepts, Sponsored by the Claude Moore Charitable Foundation, Sept. 20104 New York Times/CBS News, Jan. 15-19, 2011
5 USA TODAY/Gallup, June 7-10, 2012