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The Supreme Court gets it right

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By Rick Howell

Every now and then, the cause for justice, decency and fairness in human relations and governance gets a victory that is so immense you can feel the aura of history around it.
That’s what happened on June 28, when the conservative-leaning United States Supreme Court, through the leadership of its Chief Justice, John Roberts, affirmed President Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
    Derisively labeled “Obamacare” by those who hate and condemn it, the law represents the most momentous, and yes, progressive attempt at extending health insurance coverage to the many millions who don’t have it.
    The radical right, who clearly believe that health care is just another opportunity for profits, has shown repeatedly that its real concern is for the  riches of insurance companies. They had counted on the court to overturn the law. It’s very good news for America that they were disappointed.
    Right wingers had told us that Obamacare was pretty much evil, a “government takeover,” etc., etc. They found it difficult to believe that their goose-stepping buddies on the high court would uphold it.
    Certainly, they had every reason to believe that. Led by Antonin Scalia, and the mute Clarence Thomas (the two most activist judges in the history of America), they’d seen the court install George W. Bush as president, and allow big money unprecedented new powers in American elections.
    Yet, in this case, Roberts made it clear that he won’t always be hog tied by the fears and extremes of right-wing ideology. He defended the individual mandate by saying it could pass constitutional muster by requiring a tax upon those who don’t meet its requirements.
    As we know, governments certainly have taxing authority, don’t they?  Conservatives don’t like taxes, but they raise “fees” all the time, as Mitt Romney did in Massachusetts. What’s the difference when you’re still paying money out?
    When you drive a car in the state of Virginia without car insurance, the state requires such a fee. Why should it be so earth-shaking to have to pay one if you don’t get health insurance? As we know, the individual mandate was part of Romney’s health care reform in Massachusetts.
    So, as I saw in a message posted on the Internet: “Obamacare is constitutional...and we haven’t been taken over by the Soviets.”
    What we have done is take a giant leap toward the very fair and decent idea that health care is something that – in the richest nation on earth – should be a right. It should not be available to you only if you can afford it.
    What on earth is so evil and reprehensible about that? Why do conservatives always stand in the way of such progress? They did it when the subject was Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. They’ve done it now, and I’m sure they’ll be doing it in the future.
    They’re as wrong now as they were in the 1930s, and again in the 1960s. If they have to be dragged kicking and screaming into a future that’s more fair and just, fine. Many of us will volunteer the labor for that. They were certainly screaming a lot last week (Ken Cuccinelli called the decision a “dark day for liberty.” I kid you not.)
    Keep an eye on Chief Justice Roberts in the future, too. I think he just sent a message reminding everyone that he, not the pit bull Scalia, is the real boss on the court.
    Repealing this bill won’t be as easy as right-wingers would like to think. It will certainly never be repealed by a Democratic U.S. Senate.
    In the good fight against primitive conservatives, we sometimes win one. June 28 was such a day.

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    Rick Howell, a Bedford native, can be reached by e-mail at NewCenHowell@aol.com.