Monday, April 2, 2012

President Clinton has some ignorant thoughts on the Obamacare case

In an exclusive interview with ABC News, Clinton complains that the conservative justices on the Supreme Court "didn’t make the plaintiffs, the people that want to strike the law down, prove their case":
“Nobody asked, for example, do they want to overturn a case called Wickard v. Filburn in 1942,” Clinton said. “Where in the beginning of World War II, where we were still coming out of the Depression, a farmer was told and the Supreme Court upheld the ability of the federal government to limit his ability to grow food on his own farm for personal consumption. Because they said it affected the aggregate amount of food consumed in interstate commerce and the price of food.”
This is a pretty odd statement, as it rests on the idea that the litigants and justices simply forgot about the most famous commerce clause case. This is easily disproved. Wickard was specifically discussed several times in Tuesday's arguments, each time in cross-examination of the challengers of the law.  For example, here's Chief Justice Roberts questioning Paul Clement:
Well, Mr. Clement, the key to the government's argument to the contrary is that everybody is in this market. It's all right to regulate Wickard -- again, in Wickard against Filburn, because that's a particular market in which the farmer had been participating. 
Everybody is in this market, so that makes it very different than the market for cars or the other hypotheticals that you came up with, and all they're regulating is how you pay for it. 
MR. CLEMENT: Well, with respect, Mr. Chief Justice, I suppose the first thing you have to say is what market are we talking about? Because the government -- this statute undeniably operates in the health insurance market. And the government can't say that everybody is in that market. The whole problem is that everybody is not in that market, and they want to make everybody get into that market. 
No surprise, the case was also cited several times in each of the briefs.

So, even leaving aside the merits of Clinton's argument that Wickard is controlling (hint: it is not), it seems that President Clinton doesn't really know what he's talking about. Unless, of course, this is just politics.

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