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Freedom signs near the Fourth
Baker City Herald Editorial board
It seems to us fitting that the United States of America, within a week of our Independence Day, lurched through one of those raucuous public episodes that are a hallmark of our republic.
The cacophony attending the Supreme Court’s ruling on President Obama’s signature legislation — the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare — was the sort of spectacle that can happen only in an exceedingly free society.
Consider the linch-pins of that society that were at play:
• Obama, a freely elected president, guided his landmark bill through the legislative branch.
• Then critics of that bill — of which there are a good many — challenged the legislation through America’s accessible legal system, claiming certain aspects of it violate the federal Constitution.
• Finally, the Supreme Court, the ultimate arbiters of what passes constitutional muster, decided that the law is indeed constitutional.
• Yet that decision was by the slimmest of margins — 5-4 — from a judicial body whose members are nominated by the president and then subject to confirmation by the Senate. Which means the outcome of the presidential election on Nov. 6 could lead directly to the opposite result should some part of the Affordable Care Act ever end up on the High Court’s docket.
Now imagine how many of these things could have happened in a dictatorship.
Probably none of them.
Citing the Obamacare case as a beacon of freedom is little consolation, of course, for the millions of Americans who find fault with the five justices’ legal reasoning.
But at least opponents had the chance to argue their position, both in the halls of Congress and at the Supreme Court bench, without fear of any reprisal save the political sort.
Which is basically the idea that Thomas Jefferson had when he sat down and dipped his quill into an inkpot 236 years ago.