"The cardinal responsibility of leadership is to identify the dominant contradiction at each point of the historical process and to work out a central line to resolve it," said Mao Tse-Tung, the 20th Century revolutionary, who became the father of China.
Chief Justice John G. Roberts did just that with his vote in the 5 to 4 Supreme Court decision upholding Obamacare, and thus avoiding a couple of Constitutional pitfalls when he interpreted "insurance mandate penalty" a form of tax. Roberts not only made history in justifying "mandate" as not an attack on freedoms — he is being viewed as a wily referee, an enforcer of rules of the ball-game, without encroaching on the Congress function of making laws or the rules of the political-game.
Specifically, Roberts' opinion in favor of Obamacare springs from two core arguments of the administration, including one from President Barack Obama. The first is that the penalty for refusing to buy health coverage is really a tax as argued by government lawyers in the high court, and is therefore allowed. Roberts said: "The federal government does not have the power to order people to buy health insurance, but it does have the power to impose a tax on those without health insurance."
"Upholding the individual mandate under the Taxing Clause thus does not recognize any new federal power," Roberts wrote. "It determines that Congress has used an existing one."
The second point has to do with lifting Supreme Court above the petty politics after President Obama warned to not overturn the health-care law made and passed by the Congress.
Speaking on behalf of the conservative wing of the Supreme Court, Justice Anthony Kennedy, most often the deciding vote in such partisan matters, called the health-care law an affront to individual freedoms that should be rejected in its entirety and said: "The values that should have determined our course today are caution, minimalism and the understanding that the federal government is one of limited powers — today's court ruling undermines those values at every turn."
In response, and showing great brilliance by finding a way to uphold an act of Congress, Roberts observed: "Those law 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." However, the court did not buy administration's argument that the individual mandate is constitutional under the Commerce Clause of the Constitution.
So now with Obamacare blessed as constitutionally valid, the young and the corporations will end up paying "Roberts-tax" since it will be cheaper to do that than buying insurance, while the old will lose a few benefits to give relief to the middle class; a new type of socialism compared to transferring of wealth from rich to the poor.
Obviously, President Obama was quite enthused by the justices' favorable decision when he said: "Today's decision was a victory for people all over this country whose lives will be more secure because of this law and the Supreme Court's decision to uphold it."
The ganging up of Chief Justice with the four liberal justices has to be one of the biggest surprises in jurisprudence. Experts suspect Roberts switched his vote because of media pressure to create a Constitutional-cum-historical event by upholding the controversial mandate, requiring all Americans to either buy health-care coverage by 2014 or pay a penalty. By calling it "tax" Roberts hit the political-ball back into the peoples' court.
Obama's role model Abraham Lincoln observed thus: "Ballots are the rightful and peaceful successors to bullets." The Roberts's tax-bullet has pierced the hearts of most Americans and there is a good possibility this high court decision may serve as a precedence to put more mandates into place and take away freedoms, contravening The Bill of Rights. Go enjoy the freedom of owning a gun this weekend while it lasts.
Three hundred million Americans will decide on November 6 in what direction the country must go. Whichever way one sees the issue of "Individual Mandate Penalty versus Tax," it will be on the minds of people (after jobs and the economy), when they vote and should they elect Mitt Romney and also give majority to Republicans in the Senate — the Americans may very well overrule the Supreme Court. Romney has promised to "repeal and replace" Obamacare on the first day of his presidency.
Thomas Jefferson, the principal author of the Declaration of Independence, once said: "I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing."
Incidentally, Roberts kind of rebelled with his conservative colleagues on the Supreme Court and this may prove good for both Romney and Obama; Romney, as the next president while politically elevating Obama in achieving such a monumental legislative success to the likes of Harry S. Truman (Medicare) and Franklin D. Roosevelt for his Social Security legislation.
Dave Anand, a former technology executive, has written and published two books: "People Super Highway, the Mystique & Quest of Soul" and "The Verses." He can be contacted at email@example.com.