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Saved from Themselves


  • Paul T. Menzel

  • Paul T. Menzel, “Saved from Themselves,”


With his Affordable Care Act decision, Chief Justice Roberts saved conservatives from themselves. A constitutional regime that prohibited a mandate for basic health insurance while permitting Medicare and the Veterans Health Administration, presumably on the basis of government taxing authority, would have been a conservative nightmare. These partial U.S. versions of single payer and national health service are permissible, but a coherent private health insurance market is not?! The surprising thing is not that the generally conservative Roberts had the historical and logical sense to realize this, but that he was the only one of his conservative colleagues who did.

It is not the only irony presented by promarket, conservative constitutionalism in this case.