I thought the most revealing thing Justice Roberts wrote about the Obamacare decision was this: “It is not our job to protect the people from the consequences of their political choices.” And that includes their choice to believe things even a moment’s thought will reveal to be nonsense, lies, or some combination thereof.
Please note that this has been a theme of the court: Free citizens are responsible for sifting through claims to find the truth. Consider the Citizens United decision. Critics of corporate and union funding of political ads are assuming that the ads are misleading. After all, they wouldn’t be suing if they thought the ads helped voters reach correct decisions.
The Supreme Court, however, OK’d corporate and union funding of such ads. The justices in effect said: It is not government’s job to sort out the truth of what politicians and their supporters say in ads. That is the people’s job.
With the Obamacare decision, Roberts and (implicitly) the four liberals said: It is not our job to sort out the truth about what politicians say on the campaign trail or even under the Capitol Dome or in the Rose Garden. That is the people’s job.
For of course supporters of Obamacare were lying. A nation can’t greatly add more people to the public rolls without getting money to pay for it. To say the public health care system can be expanded without taxing the nation in some way is a blatant and egregious lie. The Roberts opinion merely noted an obvious fact.
For of course politicians lie. Duh! The best insight I ever got about politicians was from a journalist who advised: Assume every word they say is a lie, until you have some reason to think there might be truth in it.
And of course (per Citizens United) TV ads lie. Duh! The implicit assumption of free enterprise and free nations is that the people, as a whole, can tell what’s true and what’s a lie, and they are willing to suffer the consequences if they are wrong.
To go back to the Roberts decision, the admirable Andrew McCarthy said, “the Court not only upheld a fraud perpetrated on the public — it became a willing participant.” But in a sense it’s not a fraud if everyone knows or should know that obvious, blatant fraud is, well, fraud.
As Charles Krauthammer writes: “That’s undoubtedly what Roberts is telling the nation: Your job, not mine. I won’t make it easy for you.”
In other words, the government isn’t going to protect us from the risks of free choice. If the politicians tell us a whopper, we can’t go crying to our black-robed parents that the Congress and president lied to us and now the nation is bankrupt and our health care system has collapsed, and it’s not our fault because they lied to us.
I leave it to the reader to think of other obvious political scams.
In that way, the decision is salutary. It reminds people: You’re in charge, and that means you have to think. In a democratic republic, the people are responsible for their actions. That includes figuring out who’s lying to us, whether it’s in a political ad on TV or a speech in Congress or from the Oval Office.
Let’s grow up. Politicians are lying to us. Let’s treat them that way until they give us good reasons to believe them. Let’s not trust in judges to save us. We have to save ourselves. We might be better off in the end.