If I could just correct Justice Sotomayor

Via The Right Scoop

CBS DC – On the Supreme Court since 2009, Sotomayor said it was tough at first as justices made references that went over her head. She said joining the high court amounted to joining an ongoing conversation among justices who had served for years.

“I figure I may not be the smartest judge on the court but I’m going to be a competent justice,” she said. “I’m going to try to be the best I can and each year I think my opinions have been getting better. And I’m working at finding my voice a little bit.”

Sotomayor was asked at a talk at Yale Law School later in the day about her use of the term “undocumented immigrants” rather than the traditional illegal alien. Sotomayor characterized the issue as a regulatory problem and said labeling immigrants criminals seemed insulting to her.

“I think people then paint those individuals as something less than worthy human beings and it changes the conversation,” Sotomayor said.

No, people who are for LEGAL immigration do not paint illegal immigrants as lesser people. But what I really need to correct here is what is “insulting”. What is truly insulting is having a race-obsessed, Left Wing hack on the Supreme Court

California’s Activist Supreme Court Rules Illegal Alien Can Practice Law In State

Illegal Immigrant Allowed To Practice Law, California Court Rules – Wall Street Journal

A Mexican immigrant who is living in the country illegally but had graduated from law school and passed the California bar was granted a law license Thursday by the state’s highest court.

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In a unanimous decision, the California Supreme Court granted a motion filed by the state bar’s Committee of Examiners to admit 36-year-old Sergio C. Garcia. Mr. Garcia, who will open his own practice in Chico, Calif., after he is sworn in, can now legally be retained as an attorney in the state, though he cannot be employed by a firm, attorneys representing him said.

In an interview, Mr. Garcia said he was satisfied with the decision, as it was always his intention to practice privately, in the area of civil litigation. Attorneys who represented Mr. Garcia said he is the first attorney living openly in the U.S. as an illegal immigrant granted the right to practice law. Similar cases are before courts in New York and Florida.

“Right now, I am super excited, I am super happy; this has been a long, drawn-out struggle,” Mr. Garcia said. “This case in California serves as a beacon for the rest of the country to follow suit. There really is no national interest for keeping somebody like me from practicing, and paying taxes to their full potential.”

The decision to grant Mr. Garcia a law license came after California Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, signed into state law legislation that specifically allows undocumented immigrants to be admitted as attorneys. That law went into effect Wednesday.

Thursday’s decision by the state Supreme Court, which grants licenses to attorneys in the state, clears the way for admission to the bar of at least one other current applicant in California who is in the country illegally.

At issue in Mr. Garcia’s case was a federal law that prohibits people in the country illegally from obtaining professional licenses. That law had a subsection that allowed states to grant licenses if a state law was passed.

It isn’t clear what impact Mr. Garcia’s case might have beyond California. While the precedent set by the high court in the country’s most populous state is noteworthy, the decision came only after the state legislature acted.

Mr. Garcia was born in Mexico but was brought to the U.S. when he was about 18 months old. He returned to Mexico at the age of nine, and then came back to the U.S. at the age of 17, according to the summary of his case that was part of the court’s opinion. Mr. Garcia’s father filed an immigration visa petition on his son’s behalf in 1994. That application has been pending since 1995, given the visa backlog for individuals from Mexico.

Mr. Garcia graduated from high school, attended college and received his law degree in 2009 from Cal Northern School of Law, passing the bar that same year. After he listed his immigration status as “pending” in his application to the state bar, the bar conducted an investigation into Mr. Garcia and determined the immigrant possessed the “good moral character” to qualify.

Jerome Fishkin, an attorney in Walnut Creek, Calif., who originally took Mr. Garcia’s case pro bono with his wife, Lindsay Slatter, said that it was immediately clear that Mr. Garcia’s immigration status was the main issue, and that Mr. Garcia met all other requirements to be a good attorney.

Steven Camarota, director of research for the Center for Immigration Studies, a Washington, D.C., nonprofit group that wants to reduce the flow of immigrants to the U.S., said the decision was a mockery of the rule of law.

“It conveys or demonstrates once again, how we are not serious about our laws,” Mr. Camarota said.

Click HERE For Rest Of Story

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Rights? You want rights? Only if the Left approves you Homophobic Homphobes!

At times it seems that America has lost its mind, or at least that the concept of “rights” as our Founders understood and defined them is slipping away. RS McCain reports that the New Mexico Supreme Court has ruled that everyone in New Mexico must do anything that Gay couples looking to get married say because human rights you Homphobe!

Gosh, it seems like just a few years ago that allegedly serious people were warning about how the “christofascist godbags” of the Religious Right were an existential threat to freedom in America, and if you disagreed with these allegedly serious people, you were just a hateful bigot.

Now? Well, you’re still a hateful bigot, but freedom’s just another word for “nothing left to lose”:

New Mexico’s Supreme Court rules that people must set aside their religion in order to avoid creating the slightest inconvenience for gay people. . . .
No, by all means, let’s use the power of the state to reach as deeply as possible into people’s lives instead of just telling the gay couple to “Look online for ten minutes and find someone else.”

Just how they reached such a fundamentally flawed decision is frankly, inexplicable. Can the government now FORCE a business to provides goods or services against their will? Apparently the Leftists on that court think so. It is the price of citizenship apparently!

On Thursday, the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled that religious wedding photographers could be forced to photograph same-sex weddings. “When Elane Photography refused to photograph a same-sex commitment ceremony, it violated the [New Mexico Human Rights Act, or NMHRA] in the same way as if it had refused to photograph a wedding between people of different races,” the court ruled unanimously.

The court said that Elaine Huguenin, the photographer, had discriminated against gay customers for not photographing their weddings, even though she had said she would be happy to take their pictures in different contexts. The court also refused any differentiation whatsoever between homosexual and heterosexual conduct under the law, despite the fact that same-sex marriage is not licensed in the state of New Mexico. Justice Edward Chavez wrote, “The difficulty in distinguishing between status and conduct in the context of sexual orientation discrimination is that people may base their judgment about an individual’s sexual orientation on the individual’s conduct. To allow discrimination based on conduct so closely correlated with sexual orientation would severely undermine the purpose of the NMHRA.” In other words, orientation and conduct are so intertwined that to discriminate against activity would be to discriminate against the person — an odd line of logic, given that it would then follow that discriminating against religious activity would constitute discrimination on the basis of religion, making the court’s logic self-defeating.

Justice Richard Bosson wrote, in concurrence, that the Huguenins are “compelled by law to compromise the very religious beliefs that inspire their lives.” He concluded, “The Huguenins are free to think, to say, to believe, as they wish; they may pray to the God of their choice and follow those commandments in their personal lives wherever they lead. The Constitution protects the Huguenins in that respect and much more. But there is a price, one that we all have to pay somewhere in our civic life.” That “compromise,” he wrote, “is part of the glue that holds us together as a nation, the tolerance that lubricates the varied moving parts of us as a people. That sense of respect we owe others, whether or not we believe as they do, illuminates this country, setting it apart from the discord that afflicts much of the rest of the world. In short, I would say to the Huguenins, with the utmost respect: it is the price of citizenship.”

Talk about making it up as you go along! And note the word “tolerance”. How odd that the Gay couples must have, as in must have or else, “tolerance” but what of the “tolerance” for the wedding photographer? I guess some tolerance is more equal than others? Since when the Leftist definition of tolerance become part of our Constitution? I suppose, as McCain puts it, our moral superiors are to decide our every action now

Do you see what this is really about? If not, let me tell you that this is really about, “We, who are Your Moral Superiors, have authority to dictate your behavior, your words and, indeed, your thoughts.”

The language of “rights” is not about freedom, but rather power.

As I have said before, Gay marriage is a legitimate issue to debate, and, I think for states to decide. But the Gay activists and other Leftists will not let that happen. They are using this issue, as they have used many others, not to liberate, or to achieve equality of opportunity, but to create their version of what America ought to be. And understand me when I tell you that in their version of America, there will be no rights, only Leftist Totalitarianism! the Left’s thirst for power, TOTAL power, can never be slaked.

 

New Mexico Supreme Court Goes From Mildly Retarded To Insane Overnight

New Mexico Supreme Court Rules Non-English Speaking Citizens Have Right To Serve On Juries – Weasel Zippers

What the f…?

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SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) – The New Mexico Supreme Court is cautioning trial courts and lawyers that citizens who don’t speak English have the right to serve on juries.

The court issued the admonition in a ruling that upholds an Albuquerque man’s convictions for murder and other crimes in the bludgeoning death of his girlfriend and a subsequent armed robbery and stabbing.

Michael Samora’s appeal argued that his convictions should be reversed because a Bernalillo County judge excused a Spanish-speaking prospective juror who had trouble understanding English.

The Supreme Court says it agrees with that argument but also says Samora’s defense needed to object during the trial but didn’t.

The ruling issued Monday tells judges and lawyers that they must make reasonable efforts to protect the rights of non-English speaking citizens to serve on juries.

Click HERE For Rest Of Story

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The real problem with the Gay marriage issue

I have said before that the issue of Gay marriage should be a state by state decision, and that those state decisions ought to be respected by both sides. And, in theory, such a state of affairs would work out well. Ah, but you see, the driving forces behind the Gay marriage push, do not want to live and let live. They will never be satisfied with true equality, their definition of equality being far removed from the actual definition, they will use this issue to force others to bow to them. Donald Douglas declares that the war on religion, yes ALL religion, not just Christianity, is under way, and links to this piece at All the Right Snark

As Ben Shapiro wrote today at Breitbart, this ruling by the Supreme Court has opened the door to the IRS revoking tax-exempt status to any church that would refuse to permit two homosexuals to hold their “wedding” within its walls.

Don’t think that will happen?

Think again.

As it is, homosexual couples are suing bakeries, florists and other businesses for refusing to provide them with the trappings of their upcoming nuptials.

You don’t think homosexual couples won’t pursue lawsuits against churches for refusing to “marry” them?

Really?

Come on.

We’re living in Obama’s America — where in the name of “fairness” it’s open season on anyone you don’t like.

And if you think that the “Take that bitches” crowd will be respectful of those who disagree on religious grounds with homosexuals “marrying,” then, think again.

The United States Supreme Court didn’t nullify an unconstitutional law yesterday. They nullified the will of the people. The nullified the Separation of Powers. They nullified the religious freedom in this country.

Five unelected individuals in a nation of over three hundred million just paved the way for state-approved HATRED against anyone who recognizes marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

Five unelected individuals believe that opposition to homosexual “marriage” is motivated by frothing-at-the-mouth hatred. Therefore, supporters of homosexual “marriage” can go to town!!

That lays it out pretty well. As I said, I would be fine with live and let live, but the Gay marriage activists are not OK with that. They despise religion, again ALL religion, and will not stop until everyone is forced to support gay marriage. This is not about equality, or rights. What of the rights of the florist, caterer, or photographer to say no to doing a Gay wedding? And yes, eventually, churches and other houses of worship will be targeted if they say no to having a gay wedding in their sanctuary.

So, it is with regret that I say to those Gays and Lesbians who really JUST want equality, and who do not wish to force anything on any business or church, that they have allowed haters and totalitarians to take over their cause. It is sad because, I have nothing against Gay people, frankly, you could scarcely find anyone who cares less about what people do in their bedrooms than me. But, I cannot abide activists destroying the religious freedoms, and the rights of businesses. If you want equality then great, but if you want to steamroll freedom of thought, then  I do not say no, I say HELL NO!

 

Bill Clinton Praises Supreme Court For Basically Calling Him A Bigot And A Homophobe

Clintons Praise Supreme Court Reversal Of Bill Clinton’s Gay Marriage Ban – Daily Caller

Bill and Hillary Clinton praised the Supreme Court’s reversal of a key provision in the Defense of Marriage Act Wednesday, calling the 1996 law “discrimination.”

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“By overturning the Defense of Marriage Act, the Court recognized that discrimination towards any group holds us all back in our efforts to form a more perfect union,” the Clintons said in a statement posted on the Clinton Foundation website. “We are also encouraged that marriage equality may soon return to California.”

The former president and his wife, the former secretary of state, concluded, “We applaud the hard work of the advocates who have fought so relentlessly for this day, and congratulate Edie Windsor on her historic victory.”

Left unmentioned was the fact that Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act into law while president. The 1996 Clinton-Gore ticket ran ads on Christian radio stations taking credit for the legislation, which prevented federal recognition of same-sex marriage.

The Defense of Marriage Act also allowed states to withhold recognition of gay marriages that were legal in other states. Senate Democrats voted 32 to 14 in favor. House Democrats supported it by a margin of a margin of 188 to 65.

Liberal stalwarts Joe Biden, Paul Wellstone and Barbara Milkulski were among the Democratic “yes” votes.

Democratic strategist Robert Shrum has said that Clinton urged John Kerry to support state-level gay marriage bans during the 2004 presidential campaign. Clinton has denied the charge.

Hillary Clinton also supported DOMA as a Democratic senator from New York. Even as she argued against a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, she described marriage as “not just a bond, but a sacred bond between a man and a woman.” She cited her own troubled marriage with Bill as a reason for that belief.

Clinton then invoked “the fundamental bedrock principle that [marriage] exists between a man and a woman going back into the mists of history as one of the founding foundational institutions of history and humanity and civilization, and that its primary, principle role during those millennia has been the raising and socializing of children for the society into which they are to become adults.”

Early in her presidential campaign, Clinton insisted to the YearlyKos convention that “DOMA served a very useful purpose.”

Both Clintons now favor gay marriage. Hillary Clinton is considered the frontrunner for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination.

Click HERE For Rest Of Story

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U.S. Supreme Court DOMA Ruling: Complete Dissenting Opinion Of Justice Antonin Scalia

Justice Antonin Scalia: Dissenting Opinion – Cornell Law

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UNITED STATES, PETITIONER v. EDITH SCHLAIN WINDSOR, in her capacity as executor of the ESTATE OF THEA CLARA SPYER, et al.
on writ of certiorari to the united states court of appeals for the second circuit
[June 26, 2013]

Justice Scalia, with whom Justice Thomas joins, and with whom The Chief Justice joins as to Part I, dissenting.

This case is about power in several respects. It is about the power of our people to govern themselves, and the power of this Court to pronounce the law. Today’s opinion aggrandizes the latter, with the predictable consequence of diminishing the former. We have no power to decide this case. And even if we did, we have no power under the Constitution to invalidate this democratically adopted legislation. The Court’s errors on both points spring forth from the same diseased root: an exalted conception of the role of this institution in America.

I

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The Court is eager—hungry—to tell everyone its view of the legal question at the heart of this case. Standing in the way is an obstacle, a technicality of little interest to anyone but the people of We the People, who created it as a barrier against judges’ intrusion into their lives. They gave judges, in Article III, only the “judicial Power,” a power to decide not abstract questions but real, concrete “Cases” and “Controversies.” Yet the plaintiff and the Government agree entirely on what should happen in this lawsuit. They agree that the court below got it right; and they agreed in the court below that the court below that one got it right as well. What, then, are we doing here?

The answer lies at the heart of the jurisdictional portion of today’s opinion, where a single sentence lays bare the majority’s vision of our role. The Court says that we have the power to decide this case because if we did not, then our “primary role in determining the constitutionality of a law” (at least one that “has inflicted real injury on a plaintiff”) would “become only secondary to the President’s.” Ante, at 12. But wait, the reader wonders—Windsor won below, and so cured her injury, and the President was glad to see it. True, says the majority, but judicial review must march on regardless, lest we “undermine the clear dictate of the separation-of-powers principle that when an Act of Congress is alleged to conflict with the Constitution, it is emphatically the province and duty of the judicial department to say what the law is.” Ibid. (internal quotation marks and brackets omitted).

That is jaw-dropping. It is an assertion of judicial supremacy over the people’s Representatives in Congress and the Executive. It envisions a Supreme Court standing (or rather enthroned) at the apex of government, empowered to decide all constitutional questions, always and every- where “primary” in its role.

This image of the Court would have been unrecognizable to those who wrote and ratified our national charter. They knew well the dangers of “primary” power, and so created branches of government that would be “perfectly coordinate by the terms of their common commission,” none of which branches could “pretend to an exclusive or superior right of settling the boundaries between their respective powers.” The Federalist, No. 49, p. 314 (C. Rossiter ed. 1961) (J. Madison). The people did this to protect themselves. They did it to guard their right to self-rule against the black-robed supremacy that today’s majority finds so attractive. So it was that Madison could confidently state, with no fear of contradiction, that there was nothing of “greater intrinsic value” or “stamped with the authority of more enlightened patrons of liberty” than a government of separate and coordinate powers. Id., No. 47, at 301.

For this reason we are quite forbidden to say what the law is whenever (as today’s opinion asserts) “ ‘an Act of Congress is alleged to conflict with the Constitution.’ ” Ante, at 12. We can do so only when that allegation will determine the outcome of a lawsuit, and is contradicted by the other party. The “judicial Power” is not, as the majority believes, the power “ ‘to say what the law is,’ ” ibid., giving the Supreme Court the “primary role in determining the constitutionality of laws.” The majority must have in mind one of the foreign constitutions that pronounces such primacy for its constitutional court and allows that primacy to be exercised in contexts other than a lawsuit. See, e.g., Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany, Art. 93. The judicial power as Americans have understood it (and their English ancestors before them) is the power to adjudicate, with conclusive effect, disputed government claims (civil or criminal) against private persons, and disputed claims by private persons against the government or other private persons. Sometimes (though not always) the parties before the court disagree not with regard to the facts of their case (or not only with regard to the facts) but with regard to the applicable law—in which event (and only in which event) it becomes the “ ‘province and duty of the judicial department to say what the law is.’ ” Ante, at 12.

In other words, declaring the compatibility of state or federal laws with the Constitution is not only not the “primary role” of this Court, it is not a separate, free-standing role at all. We perform that role incidentally—by accident, as it were—when that is necessary to resolve the dispute before us. Then, and only then, does it become “ ‘the province and duty of the judicial department to say what the law is.’ ” That is why, in 1793, we politely declined the Washington Administration’s request to “say what the law is” on a particular treaty matter that was not the subject of a concrete legal controversy. 3 Correspondence and Public Papers of John Jay 486–489 (H. Johnston ed. 1893). And that is why, as our opinions have said, some questions of law will never be presented to this Court, because there will never be anyone with standing to bring a lawsuit. See Schlesinger v. Reservists Comm. to Stop the War, 418 U. S. 208, 227 (1974) ; United States v. Richardson, 418 U. S. 166, 179 (1974) . As Justice Brandeis put it, we cannot “pass upon the constitutionality of legislation in a friendly, non-adversary, proceeding”; absent a “ ‘real, earnest and vital controversy between individuals,’ ” we have neither any work to do nor any power to do it. Ashwander v. TVA, 297 U. S. 288, 346 (1936) (concurring opinion) (quoting Chicago & Grand Trunk R. Co. v. Wellman, 143 U. S. 339, 345 (1892) ). Our authority begins and ends with the need to adjudge the rights of an injured party who stands before us seeking redress. Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U. S. 555, 560 (1992) .

That is completely absent here. Windsor’s injury was cured by the judgment in her favor. And while, in ordinary circumstances, the United States is injured by a directive to pay a tax refund, this suit is far from ordinary. Whatever injury the United States has suffered will surely not be redressed by the action that it, as a litigant, asks us to take. The final sentence of the Solicitor General’s brief on the merits reads: “For the foregoing reasons, the judgment of the court of appeals should be affirmed.” Brief for United States (merits) 54 (emphasis added). That will not cure the Government’s injury, but carve it into stone. One could spend many fruitless afternoons ransacking our library for any other petitioner’s brief seeking an affirmance of the judgment against it. 1 What the petitioner United States asks us to do in the case before us is exactly what the respondent Windsor asks us to do: not to provide relief from the judgment below but to say that that judgment was correct. And the same was true in the Court of Appeals: Neither party sought to undo the judgment for Windsor, and so that court should have dismissed the appeal (just as we should dismiss) for lack of jurisdiction. Since both parties agreed with the judgment of the District Court for the Southern District of New York, the suit should have ended there. The further proceedings have been a contrivance, having no object in mind except to elevate a District Court judgment that has no precedential effect in other courts, to one that has precedential effect throughout the Second Circuit, and then (in this Court) precedential effect throughout the United States.

We have never before agreed to speak—to “say what the law is”—where there is no controversy before us. In the more than two centuries that this Court has existed as an institution, we have never suggested that we have the power to decide a question when every party agrees with both its nominal opponent and the court below on that question’s answer. The United States reluctantly conceded that at oral argument. See Tr. of Oral Arg. 19–20.

The closest we have ever come to what the Court blesses today was our opinion in INS v. Chadha, 462 U. S. 919 (1983) . But in that case, two parties to the litigation disagreed with the position of the United States and with the court below: the House and Senate, which had intervened in the case. Because Chadha concerned the validity of a mode of congressional action—the one-house legislative veto—the House and Senate were threatened with destruction of what they claimed to be one of their institutional powers. The Executive choosing not to defend that power, 2 we permitted the House and Senate to intervene. Nothing like that is present here.

To be sure, the Court in Chadha said that statutory aggrieved-party status was “not altered by the fact that the Executive may agree with the holding that the statute in question is unconstitutional.” Id., at 930–931. But in a footnote to that statement, the Court acknowledged Article III’s separate requirement of a “justiciable case or controversy,” and stated that this requirement was satisfied “because of the presence of the two Houses of Congress as adverse parties.” Id., at 931, n. 6. Later in its opinion, the Chadha Court remarked that the United States’ announced intention to enforce the statute also sufficed to permit judicial review, even absent congressional participation. Id., at 939. That remark is true, as a description of the judicial review conducted in the Court of Appeals, where the Houses of Congress had not intervened. (The case originated in the Court of Appeals, since it sought review of agency action under 8 U. S. C. §1105a(a) (1976 ed.).) There, absent a judgment setting aside the INS order, Chadha faced deportation. This passage of our opinion seems to be addressing that initial standing in the Court of Appeals, as indicated by its quotation from the lower court’s opinion, 462 U. S., at 939–940. But if it was addressing standing to pursue the appeal, the remark was both the purest dictum (as congressional intervention at that point made the required adverseness “beyond doubt,” id., at 939), and quite incorrect. When a private party has a judicial decree safely in hand to prevent his injury, additional judicial action requires that a party injured by the decree seek to undo it. In Chadha, the intervening House and Senate fulfilled that requirement. Here no one does.

The majority’s discussion of the requirements of Article III bears no resemblance to our jurisprudence. It accuses the amicus (appointed to argue against our jurisdiction) of “elid[ing] the distinction between . . . the jurisdictional requirements of Article III and the prudential limits on its exercise.” Ante, at 6. It then proceeds to call the requirement of adverseness a “prudential” aspect of standing. Of standing. That is incomprehensible. A plaintiff (or appellant) can have all the standing in the world—satisfying all three standing requirements of Lujan that the majority so carefully quotes, ante, at 7—and yet no Article III controversy may be before the court. Article III requires not just a plaintiff (or appellant) who has standing to complain but an opposing party who denies the validity of the complaint. It is not the amicus that has done the eliding of distinctions, but the majority, calling the quite separate Article III requirement of adverseness between the parties an element (which it then pronounces a “prudential” element) of standing. The question here is not whether, as the majority puts it, “the United States retains a stake sufficient to support Article III jurisdiction,” ibid. the question is whether there is any controversy (which requires contradiction) between the United States and Ms. Windsor. There is not.

I find it wryly amusing that the majority seeks to dismiss the requirement of party-adverseness as nothing more than a “prudential” aspect of the sole Article III requirement of standing. (Relegating a jurisdictional requirement to “prudential” status is a wondrous device, enabling courts to ignore the requirement whenever they believe it “prudent”—which is to say, a good idea.) Half a century ago, a Court similarly bent upon announcing its view regarding the constitutionality of a federal statute achieved that goal by effecting a remarkably similar but completely opposite distortion of the principles limiting our jurisdiction. The Court’s notorious opinion in Flast v. Cohen, 392 U. S. 83–101 (1968), held that standing was merely an element (which it pronounced to be a “prudential” element) of the sole Article III requirement of adverseness. We have been living with the chaos created by that power-grabbing decision ever since, see Hein v. Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc., 551 U. S. 587 (2007) , as we will have to live with the chaos created by this one.

The authorities the majority cites fall miles short of supporting the counterintuitive notion that an Article III “controversy” can exist without disagreement between the parties. In Deposit Guaranty Nat. Bank v. Roper, 445 U. S. 326 (1980) , the District Court had entered judgment in the individual plaintiff’s favor based on the defendant bank’s offer to pay the full amount claimed. The plaintiff, however, sought to appeal the District Court’s denial of class certification under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23. There was a continuing dispute between the parties concerning the issue raised on appeal. The same is true of the other case cited by the majority, Camreta v. Greene, 563 U. S. ___ (2011). There the District Court found that the defendant state officers had violated the Fourth Amendment, but rendered judgment in their favor because they were entitled to official immunity, application of the Fourth Amendment to their conduct not having been clear at the time of violation. The officers sought to appeal the holding of Fourth Amendment violation, which would circumscribe their future conduct; the plaintiff continued to insist that a Fourth Amendment violation had occurred. The “prudential” discretion to which both those cases refer was the discretion to deny an appeal even when a live controversy exists—not the discretion to grant one when it does not. The majority can cite no case in which this Court entertained an appeal in which both parties urged us to affirm the judgment below. And that is because the existence of a controversy is not a “prudential” requirement that we have invented, but an essential element of an Article III case or controversy. The majority’s notion that a case between friendly parties can be entertained so long as “adversarial presentation of the issues is assured by the participation of amici curiae prepared to defend with vigor” the other side of the issue, ante, at 10, effects a breathtaking revolution in our Article III jurisprudence.

It may be argued that if what we say is true some Presidential determinations that statutes are unconstitutional will not be subject to our review. That is as it should be, when both the President and the plaintiff agree that the statute is unconstitutional. Where the Executive is enforcing an unconstitutional law, suit will of course lie; but if, in that suit, the Executive admits the unconstitutionality of the law, the litigation should end in an order or a consent decree enjoining enforcement. This suit saw the light of day only because the President enforced the Act (and thus gave Windsor standing to sue) even though he believed it unconstitutional. He could have equally chosen (more appropriately, some would say) neither to enforce nor to defend the statute he believed to be unconstitutional, see Presidential Authority to Decline to Execute Unconstitutional Statutes, 18 Op. Off. Legal Counsel 199 (Nov. 2, 1994)—in which event Windsor would not have been injured, the District Court could not have refereed this friendly scrimmage, and the Executive’s determination of unconstitutionality would have escaped this Court’s desire to blurt out its view of the law. The matter would have been left, as so many matters ought to be left, to a tug of war between the President and the Congress, which has innumerable means (up to and including impeachment) of compelling the President to enforce the laws it has written. Or the President could have evaded presentation of the constitutional issue to this Court simply by declining to appeal the District Court and Court of Appeals dispositions he agreed with. Be sure of this much: If a President wants to insulate his judgment of unconstitutionality from our review, he can. What the views urged in this dissent produce is not insulation from judicial review but insulation from Executive contrivance.

The majority brandishes the famous sentence from Marbury v. Madison, 1 Cranch 137, 177 (1803) that “[i]t is emphatically the province and duty of the judicial department to say what the law is.” Ante, at 12 (internal quotation marks omitted). But that sentence neither says nor implies that it is always the province and duty of the Court to say what the law is—much less that its responsibility in that regard is a “primary” one. The very next sentence of Chief Justice Marshall’s opinion makes the crucial qualification that today’s majority ignores: “Those who apply the rule to particular cases, must of necessity expound and interpret that rule.” 1 Cranch, at 177 (emphasis added). Only when a “particular case” is before us—that is, a controversy that it is our business to resolve under Article III—do we have the province and duty to pronounce the law. For the views of our early Court more precisely addressing the question before us here, the ma- jority ought instead to have consulted the opinion of Chief Justice Taney in Lord v. Veazie, 8 How. 251 (1850):

“The objection in the case before us is . . . that the plaintiff and defendant have the same interest, and that interest adverse and in conflict with the interest of third persons, whose rights would be seriously affected if the question of law was decided in the manner that both of the parties to this suit desire it to be.

“A judgment entered under such circumstances, and for such purposes, is a mere form. The whole proceeding was in contempt of the court, and highly reprehensible . . . . A judgment in form, thus procured, in the eye of the law is no judgment of the court. It is a nullity, and no writ of error will lie upon it. This writ is, therefore, dismissed.” Id., at 255–256.

There is, in the words of Marbury, no “necessity [to] expound and interpret” the law in this case; just a desire to place this Court at the center of the Nation’s life. 1 Cranch, at 177.

B

A few words in response to the theory of jurisdiction set forth in Justice Alito’s dissent: Though less far reaching in its consequences than the majority’s conversion of constitutionally required adverseness into a discretionary element of standing, the theory of that dissent similarly elevates the Court to the “primary” determiner of constitutional questions involving the separation of powers, and, to boot, increases the power of the most dangerous branch: the “legislative department,” which by its nature “draw[s] all power into its impetuous vortex.” The Federalist, No. 48, at 309 (J. Madison). Heretofore in our national history, the President’s failure to “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed,” U. S. Const., Art. II, §3, could only be brought before a judicial tribunal by someone whose concrete interests were harmed by that alleged failure. Justice Alito would create a system in which Congress can hale the Executive before the courts not only to vindicate its own institutional powers to act, but to correct a perceived inadequacy in the execution of its laws. 3 This would lay to rest Tocqueville’s praise of our judicial system as one which “intimately bind[s] the case made for the law with the case made for one man,” one in which legislation is “no longer exposed to the daily aggression of the parties,” and in which “[t]he political question that [the judge] must resolve is linked to the interest” of private litigants. A. de Tocqueville, Democracy in America 97 (H. Mansfield D. Winthrop eds. 2000). That would be replaced by a system in which Congress and the Executive can pop immediately into court, in their institutional capacity, whenever the President refuses to implement a statute he believes to be unconstitutional, and whenever he implements a law in a manner that is not to Congress’s liking.

Justice Alito’s notion of standing will likewise enormously shrink the area to which “judicial censure, exercised by the courts on legislation, cannot extend,” ibid. For example, a bare majority of both Houses could bring into court the assertion that the Executive’s implementation of welfare programs is too generous—a failure that no other litigant would have standing to complain about. Moreover, as we indicated in Raines v. Byrd, 521 U. S. 811, 828 (1997) , if Congress can sue the Executive for the erroneous application of the law that “injures” its power to legislate, surely the Executive can sue Congress for its erroneous adoption of an unconstitutional law that “injures” the Executive’s power to administer—or perhaps for its protracted failure to act on one of his nominations. The opportunities for dragging the courts into disputes hitherto left for political resolution are endless.

Justice Alito’s dissent is correct that Raines did not formally decide this issue, but its reasoning does. The opinion spends three pages discussing famous, decades-long disputes between the President and Congress—regarding congressional power to forbid the Presidential removal of executive officers, regarding the legislative veto, regarding congressional appointment of executive officers, and regarding the pocket veto—that would surely have been promptly resolved by a Congress-vs.-the-President lawsuit if the impairment of a branch’s powers alone conferred standing to commence litigation. But it does not, and never has; the “enormous power that the judiciary would acquire” from the ability to adjudicate such suits “would have made a mockery of [Hamilton’s] quotation of Montesquieu to the effect that ‘of the three powers above mentioned . . . the JUDICIARY is next to nothing.’ ” Barnes v. Kline, 759 F. 2d 21, 58 (CADC 1985) (Bork, J., dissenting) (quoting The Federalist No. 78 (A. Hamilton)).

To be sure, if Congress cannot invoke our authority in the way that Justice Alito proposes, then its only recourse is to confront the President directly. Unimaginable evil this is not. Our system is designed for confrontation. That is what “[a]mbition . . . counteract[ing] ambition,” The Federalist, No. 51, at 322 (J. Madison), is all about. If majorities in both Houses of Congress care enough about the matter, they have available innumerable ways to compel executive action without a lawsuit—from refusing to confirm Presidential appointees to the elimination of funding. (Nothing says “enforce the Act” quite like “. . . or you will have money for little else.”) But the condition is crucial; Congress must care enough to act against the President itself, not merely enough to instruct its lawyers to ask us to do so. Placing the Constitution’s entirely anticipated political arm wrestling into permanent judicial receivership does not do the system a favor. And by the way, if the President loses the lawsuit but does not faithfully implement the Court’s decree, just as he did not faithfully implement Congress’s statute, what then? Only Congress can bring him to heel by . . . what do you think? Yes: a direct confrontation with the President.

II

For the reasons above, I think that this Court has, and the Court of Appeals had, no power to decide this suit. We should vacate the decision below and remand to the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, with instructions to dismiss the appeal. Given that the majority has volunteered its view of the merits, however, I proceed to discuss that as well.

A

There are many remarkable things about the majority’s merits holding. The first is how rootless and shifting its justifications are. For example, the opinion starts with seven full pages about the traditional power of States to define domestic relations—initially fooling many readers, I am sure, into thinking that this is a federalism opinion. But we are eventually told that “it is unnecessary to decide whether this federal intrusion on state power is a violation of the Constitution,” and that “[t]he State’s power in defining the marital relation is of central relevance in this case quite apart from principles of federalism” because “the State’s decision to give this class of persons the right to marry conferred upon them a dignity and status of immense import.” Ante, at 18. But no one questions the power of the States to define marriage (with the concomitant conferral of dignity and status), so what is the point of devoting seven pages to describing how long and well established that power is? Even after the opinion has formally disclaimed reliance upon principles of federalism, mentions of “the usual tradition of recognizing and accepting state definitions of marriage” continue. See, e.g., ante, at 20. What to make of this? The opinion never explains. My guess is that the majority, while reluctant to suggest that defining the meaning of “marriage” in federal statutes is unsupported by any of the Federal Government’s enumerated powers, 4 nonetheless needs some rhetorical basis to support its pretense that today’s prohibition of laws excluding same-sex marriage is confined to the Federal Government (leaving the second, state-law shoe to be dropped later, maybe next Term). But I am only guessing.

Equally perplexing are the opinion’s references to “the Constitution’s guarantee of equality.” Ibid. Near the end of the opinion, we are told that although the “equal protection guarantee of the Fourteenth Amendment makes [the] Fifth Amendment [due process] right all the more specific and all the better understood and preserved”—what can that mean?—“the Fifth Amendment itself withdraws from Government the power to degrade or demean in the way this law does.” Ante, at 25. The only possible interpretation of this statement is that the Equal Protection Clause, even the Equal Protection Clause as incorporated in the Due Process Clause, is not the basis for today’s holding. But the portion of the majority opinion that explains why DOMA is unconstitutional (Part IV) begins by citing Bolling v. Sharpe, 347 U. S. 497 (1954) , Department of Agriculture v. Moreno, 413 U. S. 528 (1973) , and Romer v. Evans, 517 U. S. 620 (1996) —all of which are equal-protection cases. 5 And those three cases are the only authorities that the Court cites in Part IV about the Constitution’s meaning, except for its citation of Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U. S. 558 (2003) (not an equal-protection case) to support its passing assertion that the Constitution protects the “moral and sexual choices” of same-sex couples, ante, at 23.

Moreover, if this is meant to be an equal-protection opinion, it is a confusing one. The opinion does not resolve and indeed does not even mention what had been the central question in this litigation: whether, under the Equal Protection Clause, laws restricting marriage to a man and a woman are reviewed for more than mere rationality. That is the issue that divided the parties and the court below, compare Brief for Respondent Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group of U. S. House of Representatives (merits) 24–28 (no), with Brief for Respondent Windsor (merits) 17–31 and Brief for United States (merits) 18–36 (yes); and compare 699 F. 3d 169, 180–185 (CA2 2012) (yes), with id., at 208–211 (Straub, J., dissenting in part and concurring in part) (no). In accord with my previously expressed skepticism about the Court’s “tiers of scrutiny” approach, I would review this classification only for its rationality. See United States v. Virginia, 518 U. S. 515–570 (1996) (Scalia, J., dissenting). As nearly as I can tell, the Court agrees with that; its opinion does not apply strict scrutiny, and its central propositions are taken from rational-basis cases like Moreno. But the Court certainly does not apply anything that resembles that deferential framework. See Heller v. Doe, 509 U. S. 312, 320 (1993) (a classification “ ‘must be upheld . . . if there is any reason- ably conceivable state of facts’ ” that could justify it).

The majority opinion need not get into the strict-vs.-rational-basis scrutiny question, and need not justify its holding under either, because it says that DOMA is unconstitutional as “a deprivation of the liberty of the person protected by the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution,” ante, at 25; that it violates “basic due process” principles, ante, at 20; and that it inflicts an “injury and indignity” of a kind that denies “an essential part of the liberty protected by the Fifth Amendment,” ante, at 19. The majority never utters the dread words “substantive due process,” perhaps sensing the disrepute into which that doctrine has fallen, but that is what those statements mean. Yet the opinion does not argue that same-sex marriage is “deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition,” Washington v. Glucksberg, 521 U. S. 702–721 (1997), a claim that would of course be quite absurd. So would the further suggestion (also necessary, under our substantive-due-process precedents) that a world in which DOMA exists is one bereft of “ ‘ordered liberty.’ ” Id., at 721 (quoting Palko v. Connecticut, 302 U. S. 319, 325 (1937) ).

Some might conclude that this loaf could have used a while longer in the oven. But that would be wrong; it is already overcooked. The most expert care in preparation cannot redeem a bad recipe. The sum of all the Court’s nonspecific hand-waving is that this law is invalid (maybe on equal-protection grounds, maybe on substantive-due-process grounds, and perhaps with some amorphous federalism component playing a role) because it is motivated by a “ ‘bare . . . desire to harm’ ” couples in same-sex marriages. Ante, at 20. It is this proposition with which I will therefore engage.

B

As I have observed before, the Constitution does not forbid the government to enforce traditional moral and sexual norms. See Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U. S. 558, 599 (2003) (Scalia, J., dissenting). I will not swell the U. S. Reports with restatements of that point. It is enough to say that the Constitution neither requires nor forbids our society to approve of same-sex marriage, much as it neither requires nor forbids us to approve of no-fault divorce, polygamy, or the consumption of alcohol.

However, even setting aside traditional moral disapproval of same-sex marriage (or indeed same-sex sex), there are many perfectly valid—indeed, downright boring—justifying rationales for this legislation. Their existence ought to be the end of this case. For they give the lie to the Court’s conclusion that only those with hateful hearts could have voted “aye” on this Act. And more importantly, they serve to make the contents of the legislators’ hearts quite irrelevant: “It is a familiar principle of constitutional law that this Court will not strike down an otherwise constitutional statute on the basis of an alleged illicit legislative motive.” United States v. O’Brien, 391 U. S. 367, 383 (1968) . Or at least it was a familiar principle. By holding to the contrary, the majority has declared open season on any law that (in the opinion of the law’s opponents and any panel of like-minded federal judges) can be characterized as mean-spirited.

The majority concludes that the only motive for this Act was the “bare . . . desire to harm a politically unpopular group.” Ante, at 20. Bear in mind that the object of this condemnation is not the legislature of some once-Confederate Southern state (familiar objects of the Court’s scorn, see, e.g., Edwards v. Aguillard, 482 U. S. 578 (1987) ), but our respected coordinate branches, the Congress and Presidency of the United States. Laying such a charge against them should require the most extraordinary evidence, and I would have thought that every attempt would be made to indulge a more anodyne explanation for the statute. The majority does the opposite—affirmatively concealing from the reader the arguments that exist in justification. It makes only a passing mention of the “arguments put forward” by the Act’s defenders, and does not even trouble to paraphrase or describe them. See ante, at 21. I imagine that this is because it is harder to maintain the illusion of the Act’s supporters as unhinged members of a wild-eyed lynch mob when one first describes their views as they see them.

To choose just one of these defenders’ arguments, DOMA avoids difficult choice-of-law issues that will now arise absent a uniform federal definition of marriage. See, e.g., Baude, Beyond DOMA: Choice of State Law in Fed- eral Statutes, 64 Stan. L. Rev. 1371 (2012). Imagine a pair of women who marry in Albany and then move to Alabama, which does not “recognize as valid any marriage of parties of the same sex.” Ala. Code §30–1–19(e) (2011). When the couple files their next federal tax return, may it be a joint one? Which State’s law controls, for federal-law purposes: their State of celebration (which recognizes the marriage) or their State of domicile (which does not)? (Does the answer depend on whether they were just visiting in Albany?) Are these questions to be answered as a matter of federal common law, or perhaps by borrowing a State’s choice-of-law rules? If so, which State’s? And what about States where the status of an out-of-state same-sex marriage is an unsettled question under local law? See Godfrey v. Spano, 13 N. Y. 3d 358, 920 N. E. 2d 328 (2009). DOMA avoided all of this uncertainty by speci- fying which marriages would be recognized for federal purposes. That is a classic purpose for a definitional provision.

Further, DOMA preserves the intended effects of prior legislation against then-unforeseen changes in circumstance. When Congress provided (for example) that a special estate-tax exemption would exist for spouses, this exemption reached only opposite-sex spouses—those being the only sort that were recognized in any State at the time of DOMA’s passage. When it became clear that changes in state law might one day alter that balance, DOMA’s definitional section was enacted to ensure that state-level experimentation did not automatically alter the basic operation of federal law, unless and until Congress made the further judgment to do so on its own. That is not animus—just stabilizing prudence. Congress has hardly demonstrated itself unwilling to make such further, revising judgments upon due deliberation. See, e.g., Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010, 124Stat. 3515.

The Court mentions none of this. Instead, it accuses the Congress that enacted this law and the President who signed it of something much worse than, for example, having acted in excess of enumerated federal powers—or even having drawn distinctions that prove to be irrational. Those legal errors may be made in good faith, errors though they are. But the majority says that the supporters of this Act acted with malice—with the “purpose” (ante, at 25) “to disparage and to injure” same-sex couples. It says that the motivation for DOMA was to “demean,” ibid.; to “impose inequality,” ante, at 22; to “impose . . . a stigma,” ante, at 21; to deny people “equal dignity,” ibid.; to brand gay people as “unworthy,” ante, at 23; and to “humiliat[e]” their children, ibid. (emphasis added).

I am sure these accusations are quite untrue. To be sure (as the majority points out), the legislation is called the Defense of Marriage Act. But to defend traditional marriage is not to condemn, demean, or humiliate those who would prefer other arrangements, any more than to defend the Constitution of the United States is to condemn, demean, or humiliate other constitutions. To hurl such accusations so casually demeans this institution. In the majority’s judgment, any resistance to its holding is beyond the pale of reasoned disagreement. To question its high-handed invalidation of a presumptively valid statute is to act (the majority is sure) with the purpose to “disparage,” ”injure,” “degrade,” ”demean,” and “humiliate” our fellow human beings, our fellow citizens, who are homosexual. All that, simply for supporting an Act that did no more than codify an aspect of marriage that had been unquestioned in our society for most of its existence—indeed, had been unquestioned in virtually all societies for virtually all of human history. It is one thing for a society to elect change; it is another for a court of law to impose change by adjudging those who oppose it hostes humani generis, enemies of the human race.

* * *

The penultimate sentence of the majority’s opinion is a naked declaration that “[t]his opinion and its holding are confined” to those couples “joined in same-sex marriages made lawful by the State.” Ante, at 26, 25. I have heard such “bald, unreasoned disclaimer[s]” before. Lawrence, 539 U. S., at 604. When the Court declared a constitutional right to homosexual sodomy, we were assured that the case had nothing, nothing at all to do with “whether the government must give formal recognition to any relationship that homosexual persons seek to enter.” Id., at 578. Now we are told that DOMA is invalid because it “demeans the couple, whose moral and sexual choices the Constitution protects,” ante, at 23—with an accompanying citation of Lawrence. It takes real cheek for today’s majority to assure us, as it is going out the door, that a constitutional requirement to give formal recognition to same-sex marriage is not at issue here—when what has preceded that assurance is a lecture on how superior the majority’s moral judgment in favor of same-sex marriage is to the Congress’s hateful moral judgment against it. I promise you this: The only thing that will “confine” the Court’s holding is its sense of what it can get away with.

I do not mean to suggest disagreement with The Chief Justice’s view, ante, p. 2–4 (dissenting opinion), that lower federal courts and state courts can distinguish today’s case when the issue before them is state denial of marital status to same-sex couples—or even that this Court could theoretically do so. Lord, an opinion with such scatter-shot rationales as this one (federalism noises among them) can be distinguished in many ways. And deserves to be. State and lower federal courts should take the Court at its word and distinguish away.

In my opinion, however, the view that this Court will take of state prohibition of same-sex marriage is indicated beyond mistaking by today’s opinion. As I have said, the real rationale of today’s opinion, whatever disappearing trail of its legalistic argle-bargle one chooses to follow, is that DOMA is motivated by “ ‘bare . . . desire to harm’ ” couples in same-sex marriages. Supra, at 18. How easy it is, indeed how inevitable, to reach the same conclusion with regard to state laws denying same-sex couples marital status. Consider how easy (inevitable) it is to make the following substitutions in a passage from today’s opinion ante, at 22:

“DOMA’s This state law’s principal effect is to identify a subset of state-sanctioned marriages constitutionally protected sexual relationships, see Lawrence, and make them unequal. The principal purpose is to impose inequality, not for other reasons like governmental efficiency. Responsibilities, as well as rights, enhance the dignity and integrity of the person. And DOMA this state law contrives to deprive some couples married under the laws of their State enjoying constitutionally protected sexual relationships, but not other couples, of both rights and responsibilities.”

Or try this passage, from ante, at 22–23:

“[DOMA] This state law tells those couples, and all the world, that their otherwise valid marriages relationships are unworthy of federal state recognition. This places same-sex couples in an unstable position of being in a second-tier marriage relationship. The differentiation demeans the couple, whose moral and sexual choices the Constitution protects, see Lawrence, . . . .”

Or this, from ante, at 23—which does not even require alteration, except as to the invented number:

“And it humiliates tens of thousands of children now being raised by same-sex couples. The law in question makes it even more difficult for the children to understand the integrity and closeness of their own family and its concord with other families in their community and in their daily lives.”

Similarly transposable passages—deliberately transposable, I think—abound. In sum, that Court which finds it so horrific that Congress irrationally and hatefully robbed same-sex couples of the “personhood and dignity” which state legislatures conferred upon them, will of a certitude be similarly appalled by state legislatures’ irrational and hateful failure to acknowledge that “personhood and dignity” in the first place. Ante, at 26. As far as this Court is concerned, no one should be fooled; it is just a matter of listening and waiting for the other shoe.

By formally declaring anyone opposed to same-sex marriage an enemy of human decency, the majority arms well every challenger to a state law restricting marriage to its traditional definition. Henceforth those challengers will lead with this Court’s declaration that there is “no legitimate purpose” served by such a law, and will claim that the traditional definition has “the purpose and effect to disparage and to injure” the “personhood and dignity” of same-sex couples, see ante, at 25, 26. The majority’s limiting assurance will be meaningless in the face of language like that, as the majority well knows. That is why the language is there. The result will be a judicial distortion of our society’s debate over marriage—a debate that can seem in need of our clumsy “help” only to a member of this institution.

As to that debate: Few public controversies touch an institution so central to the lives of so many, and few inspire such attendant passion by good people on all sides. Few public controversies will ever demonstrate so vividly the beauty of what our Framers gave us, a gift the Court pawns today to buy its stolen moment in the spotlight: a system of government that permits us to rule ourselves. Since DOMA’s passage, citizens on all sides of the question have seen victories and they have seen defeats. There have been plebiscites, legislation, persuasion, and loud voices—in other words, democracy. Victories in one place for some, see North Carolina Const., Amdt. 1 (providing that “[m]arriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State”) (approved by a popular vote, 61% to 39% on May 8, 2012), 6 are offset by victories in other places for others, see Maryland Question 6 (establishing “that Maryland’s civil marriage laws allow gay and lesbian couples to obtain a civil marriage license”) (approved by a popular vote, 52% to 48%, on November 6, 2012). 7 Even in a single State, the question has come out differently on different occasions. Compare Maine Question 1 (permitting “the State of Maine to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples”) (approved by a popular vote, 53% to 47%, on November 6, 2012) 8 with Maine Question 1 (rejecting “the new law that lets same-sex couples marry”) (approved by a popular vote, 53% to 47%, on November 3, 2009). 9

In the majority’s telling, this story is black-and-white: Hate your neighbor or come along with us. The truth is more complicated. It is hard to admit that one’s political opponents are not monsters, especially in a struggle like this one, and the challenge in the end proves more than today’s Court can handle. Too bad. A reminder that disagreement over something so fundamental as marriage can still be politically legitimate would have been a fit task for what in earlier times was called the judicial temperament. We might have covered ourselves with honor today, by promising all sides of this debate that it was theirs to settle and that we would respect their resolution. We might have let the People decide.

But that the majority will not do. Some will rejoice in today’s decision, and some will despair at it; that is the nature of a controversy that matters so much to so many. But the Court has cheated both sides, robbing the winners of an honest victory, and the losers of the peace that comes from a fair defeat. We owed both of them better. I dissent.

Notes

1 For an even more advanced scavenger hunt, one might search the annals of Anglo-American law for another “Motion to Dismiss” like the one the United States filed in District Court: It argued that the court should agree “with Plaintiff and the United States” and “not dismiss” the complaint. (Emphasis mine.) Then, having gotten exactly what it asked for, the United States promptly appealed.

2 There the Justice Department’s refusal to defend the legislation was in accord with its longstanding (and entirely reasonable) practice of declining to defend legislation that in its view infringes upon Presidential powers. There is no justification for the Justice Department’s abandoning the law in the present case. The majority opinion makes a point of scolding the President for his “failure to defend the constitutionality of an Act of Congress based on a constitutional theory not yet established in judicial decisions,” ante, at 12. But the rebuke is tongue-in-cheek, for the majority gladly gives the President what he wants. Contrary to all precedent, it decides this case (and even decides it the way the President wishes) despite his abandonment of the defense and the consequent absence of a case or controversy.

3 Justice Alito attempts to limit his argument by claiming that Congress is injured (and can therefore appeal) when its statute is held unconstitutional without Presidential defense, but is not injured when its statute is held unconstitutional despite Presidential defense. I do not understand that line. The injury to Congress is the same whether the President has defended the statute or not. And if the injury is threatened, why should Congress not be able to participate in the suit from the beginning, just as the President can? And if having a statute declared unconstitutional (and therefore inoperative) by a court is an injury, why is it not an injury when a statute is declared unconstitutional by the President and rendered inoperative by his consequent failure to enforce it? Or when the President simply declines to enforce it without opining on its constitutionality? If it is the inoperativeness that constitutes the injury—the “impairment of [the legislative] function,” as Justice Alito puts it, post, at 4—it should make no difference which of the other two branches inflicts it, and whether the Constitution is the pretext. A principled and predictable system of jurisprudence cannot rest upon a shifting concept of injury, designed to support standing when we would like it. If this Court agreed with Justice Alito’s distinction, its opinion in Raines v. Byrd, 521 U. S. 811 (1997) , which involved an original suit by Members of Congress challenging an assertedly unconstitutional law, would have been written quite differently; and Justice Alito’s distinguishing of that case on grounds quite irrelevant to his theory of standing would have been unnecessary.

4 Such a suggestion would be impossible, given the Federal Government’s long history of making pronouncements regarding marriage—for example, conditioning Utah’s entry into the Union upon its prohibition of polygamy. See Act of July 16, 1894, ch. 138, §3, 28Stat. 108 (“The constitution [of Utah]” must provide “perfect toleration of religious sentiment,” “Provided, That polygamous or plural marriages are forever prohibited”).

5 Since the Equal Protection Clause technically applies only against the States, see U. S. Const., Amdt. 14, Bolling and Moreno, dealing with federal action, relied upon “the equal protection component of the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment,” Moreno, 413 U. S., at 533.

6 North Carolina State Board of Elections, Official Results: Primary Election of May 8, 2012, Constitutional Amendment.

7 Maryland State Board of Elections, Official 2012 Presidential General Election Results for All State Questions, Question 06.

8 Maine Bureau of Elections, Nov. 3, 2009, Referendum Tabulation (Question 1).

9 Maine Bureau of Elections, Nov. 6, 2012, Referendum Election Tabulations (Question 1).

Dissent

SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES

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Supreme Court Rules Defense Of Marriage Act Unconstitutional

Supreme Court Rules Defense Of Marriage Act Unconstitutional – The Hill

The Supreme Court on Wednesday struck down the heart of a federal law defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

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In a 5-4 decision written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, the court overturned a section of the Defense of Marriage Act that bars same-sex couples from receiving federal benefits, even if they live in a state that recognizes same-sex marriages.

The challenge to DOMA was filed by Edith Windsor, a New York widow who inherited her late wife’s home but was forced to pay dramatically higher property taxes than she would have if she had married a man, even though the state recognized her marriage.

Kennedy wrote that the law desprived liberties to couples in same-sex marriages that are protected by the Fifth Amendment.

“DOMA singles out a class of persons deemed by a State entitled to recognition and protection to enhance their own liberty,” Kennedy wrote. “It imposes a disability on the class by refusing to acknowledge a status the State finds to be dignified and proper. DOMA instructs all federal officials, and indeed all persons with whom same-sex couples interact, including their own children, that their marriage is less worthy than the marriages of others.”

The court’s liberal wing joined Kennedy in the majority decision, while the court’s conservative justices dissented in three separate opinions.

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Yet Another Reason Why States Need To Begin Ignoring The Federal Government

Supreme Court: Arizona Law Requiring Citizenship Proof For Voters Is Illegal – Fox News

The Supreme Court ruled Monday that states cannot on their own require would-be voters to prove they are U.S. citizens before using a federal registration system designed to make signing up easier.

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The justices voted 7-2 to throw out Arizona’s voter-approved requirement that prospective voters document their U.S. citizenship in order to use a registration form produced under the federal “Motor Voter” voter registration law.

Federal law “precludes Arizona from requiring a federal form applicant to submit information beyond that required by the form itself,” Justice Antonia Scalia wrote for the court’s majority.

The court was considering the legality of Arizona’s requirement that prospective voters document their U.S. citizenship in order to use a registration form produced under the federal “motor voter” registration law. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said that the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, which doesn’t require such documentation, trumps Arizona’s Proposition 200 passed in 2004.

Arizona appealed that decision to the Supreme Court.

“Today’s decision sends a strong message that states cannot block their citizens from registering to vote by superimposing burdensome paperwork requirements on top of federal law,” said Nina Perales, vice president of litigation for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund and lead counsel for the voters who challenged Proposition 200.

“The Supreme Court has affirmed that all U.S. citizens have the right to register to vote using the national postcard, regardless of the state in which they live,” she said.

The case focuses on Arizona, which has tangled frequently with the federal government over immigration issues involving the Mexican border. But it has broader implications because four other states — Alabama, Georgia, Kansas and Tennessee — have similar requirements, and 12 other states are contemplating such legislation.

Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito dissented from the court’s ruling.

The Constitution “authorizes states to determine the qualifications of voters in federal elections, which necessarily includes the related power to determine whether those qualifications are satisfied,” Thomas said in his dissent.

Opponents of Arizona’s law see it as an attack on vulnerable voter groups such as minorities, immigrants and the elderly. They say they’ve counted more than 31,000 potentially legal voters in Arizona who easily could have registered before Proposition 200 but were blocked initially by the law in the 20 months after it passed in 2004. They say about 20 percent of those thwarted were Latino.

Barbara Arnwine, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, called the decision a victory. “The court has reaffirmed the essential American right to register to vote for federal election without the burdens of state voter suppression measures,” she said.

But Arizona officials say they should be able to pass laws to stop illegal immigrants and other noncitizens from getting on their voting rolls. The Arizona voting law was part of a package that also denied some government benefits to illegal immigrants and required Arizonans to show identification before voting.

The federal “motor voter” law, enacted in 1993 to expand voter registration, requires states to offer voter registration when a resident applies for a driver’s license or certain benefits. Another provision of that law — the one at issue before the court — requires states to allow would-be voters to fill out mail-in registration cards and swear they are citizens under penalty of perjury, but it doesn’t require them to show proof. Under Proposition 200, Arizona officials require an Arizona driver’s license issued after 1996, a U.S. birth certificate, a passport or other similar document, or the state will reject the federal registration application form.

While the court was clear in stating that states cannot add additional identification requirements to the federal forms on their own, it was also clear that the same actions can be taken by state governments if they get the approval of the federal government and the federal courts.

Arizona can ask the federal government to include the extra documents as a state-specific requirement, Scalia said, and take any decision made by the government on that request back to court. Other states have already done so, Scalia said.

The Election Assistance Commission “recently approved a state-specific instruction for Louisiana requiring applicants who lack a Louisiana driver’s license, ID card or Social Security number to attach additional documentation to the completed federal form,” Scalia said.

The case is 12-71, Arizona v. Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, Inc.

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Rand Paul To Challenge NSA Snooping In Supreme Court, Asks Phone And Internet Customers To Join Lawsuit

Rand Paul Tells Fox Viewers To Join Lawsuit Against NSA: ‘I’m Going To Challenge This At The Supreme Court’ – Mediaite

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul took to Fox News Sunday to declare his legal opposition to the NSA’s surveillance programs. “I’m going to be seeing if I can challenge this at the Supreme Court level,” Paul said.

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“I’m going to be asking all the internet providers and all of the phone companies: ask your customers to join me in a class action lawsuit,” Paul told host Chris Wallace. “If we get ten million Americans saying we don’t want our phone records looked at, then maybe someone will wake up and something will change in Washington.”

Like many lawmakers, Paul drew a distinction between targeted surveillance and the blanket surveillance revealed this week.

“They are looking at a billion phone calls a day,” Paul said. “That doesn’t sound to me like a modest invasion of primary, it sounds like an extraordinary invasion of privacy.”

“I have no problem if you have probable cause, you target people who are terrorists, and you go after them,” Paul continued. “But we’re talking about trolling through billions of phone records… That is unconstitutional.”

Paul also said he would introduce the Fourth Amendment Restoriation Act, though he offered few details about the still-hypothetical legislation.

“If you talk to young people who use computers every day, they’re absolutely with me,” Paul said. “What I spend on my Visa each month, that’s my business, where I spend it, and whether I read conservative magazines, whether I subscribe to Fox News, or whether I subscribe to Yahoo or Google – what I do with my private life is my private life. If you suspect me of a crime, have probable cause.”

“So much of our life now is digitalized, that we have to protect it from a snooping government,” Paul said. “We’ve now got a government that appears to target people based on their political beliefs. I don’t want my phone records being given to an administration I can’t trust.”

Paul remembered that the public outrage against SOPA and PIPA legislation last year were somewhat successful in pushing back the laws, and predicted that if people reacted with similar severity to the current surveillance measures, they would be successful in repealing them.

Watch the interview here, via Fox News:

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Click HERE For Rest Of Story

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Obama’s Birth Certificate To Be Questioned By Alabama Supreme Court Thanks To Relentless Sheriff

Obama’s Birth Certificate To Be Questioned By Supreme Court Thanks To Relentless Sheriff – Mr. Conservative

Despite being elected for a second term, the questions about President Obama’s place of birth – and his eligibility to be president – just won’t go away. The Alabama Supreme Court is now set to hear an appeal from a case filed last fall, alleging that Obama wasn’t properly on the Alabama ballot because he never produced an original copy of his birth certificate.

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What makes this legal action different from all previous suits challenging Obama’s eligibility is that the plaintiffs are offering the gold standard in evidence: Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s “cold case posse.” In March, Sheriff Joe announced the results of his posse’s investigation into the mysteries of the PDF, or electronic, long-form birth certificate Obama finally released in response to myriad challenges about whether he met the constitutional requirement that he be a “natural born citizen.”

Sheriff Joe and his Posse concluded that the birth certificate is a forgery:

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On close examination of the evidence, we are prepared to say we believe probable cause exists indicating that forgery and fraud may have been committed. Not only in President Obama’s long form birth certificate, but more disturbing evidence suggests that another fraud may have been committed regarding his selective service registration card.

At the very least, I can tell you this. Based on all of the evidence presented and investigated, I cannot in good faith report to you that these documents are authentic. My investigators believe that the long firm birth certificate was manufactured electronically and it did not originated in a paper format as claimed by the White House.

If Sheriff Joe is correct that the PDF is a forgery, that does not automatically prove that Obama is not eligible to hold the office of president. It just means that, to date, he has not provided any credible proof that he is eligible to hold that office.

In Alabama, plaintiffs who already had their suspicion that the birth certificate was a forgery filed suit to force the Alabama Secretary of State to verify that all candidates on the presidential 2012 ballot were eligible to serve. The Alabama trial court immediately joined a long line of courts that have refused to hear the case on the merits and dismissed the suit. Plaintiffs appealed.

The case is now before the Alabama Supreme Court, which is currently headed by Roy Moore, a strict constitutionalist. Even better from the plaintiffs’ point of view is the fact that Justice Moore has gone on record questioning whether Obama was indeed a “natural born citizen,” citing Obama’s refusal to provide had not provided any evidence proving that he is:

This is the strangest thing indeed. The president has never produced [evidence] in the face of substantial evidence he was not born in our country. People are accepting it blindly based on their feelings, not on the law.

Several blogs are reporting that Sheriff Joe and his cold case posse will be part of the team providing evidence to support the plaintiffs’ argument. On the defense side, the attorneys are doing a lot of name-calling – “birthers,” “tiny cabal of zealots” – but insults are neither facts nor law.

The proof that Obama was not born in Hawaii and is not eligible to hold the highest office in the land is all circumstantial, which is why those who defend Obama’s citizenship have such fun engaging in all sorts of name-calling. What they don’t realize is that the proof that Obama was born in Hawaii and is therefore eligible to be President is equally circumstantial.

Obama has never produced an original document proving his Hawaiian birth. Moreover, he has spent millions of dollars to make sure that he is never called upon to produce that kind of document. His efforts to hide the circumstances of his birth (Foreign? Illegitimate? A father other than the one claimed?) all indicate that there’s something funny going on.

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Related video:

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Some much needed words of wisdom from the past

Loopy Loo, posting at Zilla’s place, has a must read bit of history

United States Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story (1779-1845) was a famous jurist, and his Commentaries was a very influential treatise on United States constitutional law

His tenure on the Supreme Court spanned three decades, from 1811 to 1845.   At the beginning of the twentieth century, Story was elected to the Hall of Fame.   His views on the Constitution of the United States are still widely respected.

On November 18, 1811, President James Madison nominated Story to the Supreme Court of the United States. The Senate confirmed the appointment on February 3, 1812. At the age of thirty-two, Story was the youngest person ever appointed to the Supreme Court. While on the Supreme Court, Story served as a delegate to the Massachusetts Constitutional Convention of 1820 and was a Professor of Law at Harvard, where he wrote a series of nine commentaries on the law, each of which was published in several editions. Story served on the Supreme Court for thirty-three years. He died on September 10, 1845, at the age of sixty-five.

This quote from him caught  my attention:

“Republics are created by the virtue, public spirit, and intelligence of the citizens. They fall, when the wise are banished from the public councils, because they dare to be honest, and the profligate are rewarded, because they flatter the people in order to betray them.”

- Joseph Story – Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States, 2d ed. (1851), vol. 2, chapter
Is that not a very near perfect summation of where America is today? The wise ARE mocked, and the honest are called “extremists”. Many of our citizens are blithely ignorant of our Constitution, our founders, our founding principles, and of our history. And some of the worst cases of ignorance occur in well-educated Americans. This is, I believe, because our education system  is about idoctrination, not education. 
Go read the rest of the post, it is worth it.

 

 

Former Left-Wing Michigan Supreme Court Justice Pleads Guilty To Felony Bank Fraud

Former Michigan Supreme Court Justice Diane Hathaway Pleads Guilty To Felony Bank Fraud – Detroit Free Press

Retired Michigan Supreme Court Justice Diane Hathaway pleaded guilty to felony bank fraud today and is expected to be sentenced May 28.

Hathaway stood quietly at a podium in U.S District Court in Ann Arbor this morning, acknowledging she intentionally defrauded a federally insured financial institution with the short sale of her Grosse Pointe Park home.

According to an agreement negotiated with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, her punishment is limited to up to 18 months behind bars or could be as little as four-10 months if a pre-sentence report determines there was no actual financial loss. Hathaway also could receive a sentence of three-five years of supervised release, be fined up to $30,000 and pay restitution of up to $90,000, according to the agreement. She waived her right to appeal the case after sentencing.

“Yes, Your Honor, I agree,” Hathaway said to U.S. Eastern District Judge John Corbett O’Meara.

Hathaway’s only “no” response came when O’Meara asked her about using her position as a Michigan Supreme Court judge as part of the scheme.

“Did you use your status as a public employee in your attempt to defraud?” O’Meara asked her.

“No,” she responded.

Hathaway retired Jan. 21 amid the scandal involving the short sale.

Hathaway was charged Jan. 18 with one count of bank fraud after investigators said she moved ownership of property in Florida to relatives so she could qualify for the short sale. Hathaway allegedly told financial institution ING Direct she could no longer afford the house payments on the Michigan home.

In a civil filing in November, the U.S. Justice Department accused Hathaway and her husband, attorney Michael Kingsley, of fraudulently concealing their net worth.

The short sale in Michigan allowed the couple to erase nearly $600,000 in mortgage debt on the $1.5-million Grosse Pointe Park home on Lakeview Court, which eventually sold for $850,000. The debt-free Windermere, Fla., home then went back into their names. Hathaway’s attorney, Steve Fishman, said outside the courthouse that ING Direct is claiming they lost far less than the mortgage debt erased by the short sale.

“It’s important for people to know that now we’re down to the actual loss as calculated by ING… and they’re saying it’s between $40,000 and $90,000,” Fishman said, pointing out that Hathaway could have just walked away from the home altogether.

“I say the loss is nothing… because the bank netted probably in the vicinity of $150,000 more from the fact that there was a short sale than if it had been a foreclosure and a sheriff’s sale. And that will be part of the discussion when we come back for sentencing.”

Hathaway left the bench after announcing the decision to retire Jan. 7 after the Judicial Tenure Commission filed a complaint and sought her immediate suspension. The commission alleged she committed “blatant and brazen” misconduct violations in connection with private real estate transactions.

Click HERE For Rest Of Story

Can we save companies like Hobby Lobby from Obamacare?

Hobby Lobby is a company run by Christians, and has vowed to not go along with parts of Obamacare

The owners of Hobby Lobby say they must remain true to their faith, despite the U.S. Supreme Court’s refusal to block the Obamacare contraception mandate.

Their attorney said the company will not provide the morning-after and week-after pills in its employee insurance plan when the health care mandate takes effect Jan. 1.

“The company will continue to provide health insurance to all qualified employees,” attorney Kyle Duncan said in a statement posted on Hobby Lobby’s website. 

“To remain true to their faith, it is not their intention, as a company, to pay for abortion-inducing drugs,” he said.

Hobby Lobby risks fines of more than a million dollars a day for ignoring the Obamacare mandate.

Let that sink in folks. The government will eventually bankrupt a corporation for not violating the deeply held faith of its owners. Freedom of religion? Not any more apparently. The Democrats, of course, tell us they are the “Party of  Working Americans”. Really? How will the war on Hobby Lobby, and other companies owned by people of faith serve those working for those companies? How will the death of Hobby Lobby benefit those working Americans? Or perhaps the Democrats are fine with more unemployed Americans. Maybe to them that just means more of us dependent on government, which seems to be the goal of the Democrats. The more dependency on government, the greater the chance Democrats will dominate the political power in America. And, yes, power is more important to the Left than putting the country first.

This video, via The Right Scoop features Michelle Malkin talking about both the fiscal cliff and Hobby Lobby.

Michelle raises the point that we must stand with Hobby Lobby. A point I agree with entirely. But, if Hobby Lobby is being fined $1.3 million dollars a day, can we shop there enough to keep them afloat? The real issue with Hobby Lobby is this. They are not a company that will play ball with Team Obama. Companies that do play ball have received waivers from Obamacare. Now we are told these waivers are only temporary, but really, can we trust this administration to be honest about  that? This is the biggest issue here in the end. This administration, and likely future Democratic administrations will continue to play Chicago style politics. We, of course, have in our Constitution, constraints against government encroachment upon our rights. But, we also have a bunch of politicians who do not care about that document they took an oath to protect and defend. And, thanks to the gutlessness of the Chief-Justice of the Supreme Court, Obamcare is the law of the land. So, now what? Any ideas? 

Junior Race Pimp: Minorities are just too stupid to compete or succeed!

 

Yes, I know, Toure did not say those exact words, but, if you think about he did say, then clearly he thinks that no minority would succeed without government run affirmative action

During Tuesday‘s edition of MSNBC’s “The Cycle,” co-host Touré made the argument that without affirmative action in colleges, “the entire leadership of America would become entirely white.”

This, he explained, is barely a “whitewashing of what we already have” in America today.

“The Cycle” hosted Richard Sander and Stuart Taylor Jr., the authors of “Mismatch: How Affirmative Action Hurts Students It’s Intended to Help, and Why Universities Won’t Admit It.” Touré began by citing the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, which called their work “junk science,” in an attempt to discredit them before even allowing them to make their case.

“You suggest that it’s better for these black and brown students to go to second tier schools rather than to go to Harvard or Yale, the first tier schools. The entire Supreme Court comes from Harvard or Yale. Almost all presidents, Harvard or Yale – all the top of corporate America,” Touré said.

“So, if we follow your prescription then the entire leadership of America would become entirely white, which is just a barely whitewashing of what we already have,” he added.

Toure, Toure, Toure, you backasswards little man, you are the lowest hanging branch on the Tree of Low-Hanging Blogging Fruit!

 

Just what we needed, more government

 

Chris at Wyblog makes a very important point about a law which requires teenage drivers to affix a red decal to their license plates.

Today the New Jersey State Supreme Court upheld a law which requires teenage drivers to affix a red decal to their license plates.

Requiring young drivers to affix a small red decal to their license plate is not an invasion of privacy and does not make them more vulnerable to predators, the state Supreme Court ruled today.

Upholding the constitutionality of a 2009 law, the court by a 6-0 decision said the practice, known as Kyleigh’s Law, does not violate the federal Driver’s Privacy Protection Act, which states the only information that can be disclosed is that the driver is under 21 and holds a special learner.s permit, examination permit or probationary license.

“New Jersey is the test kitchen on this,” said Pam Fischer, director of the state’s division of highway traffic safety. “People should recognize this is a tool to help enforce the provisions of the graduated driver’s license so that we reduce the risk to teens. The number one killer of teens is car crashes.”

Kyleigh’s Law, named for a Morris County teenager killed in a 2006 crash, is intended to help police officers identify young drivers violating the conditions of their permits and licenses that impose curfews and limits the number of passengers. 

But riddle me this, Batman. If it’s the driver they’re interested in identifying, why tag the car? People share cars. Mom doesn’t really need the benefit of Kyleigh’s Scarlet Decal.

Wouldn’t it make more sense to affix the tag directly to each teenager?

Say by requiring them to sew a yellow star on their shirt?

Another useless law, enacted because a tragedy was exploited, that will have some “unintended” consequences. When will we ever learn?

 

*VIDEO* Bill Whittle: One For The Team

More bloggers roast Roberts

Bob Belvedere lays it on Roberts, who KNEW better

John Roberts, however, is not a Leftist drone, yet he obviously has acted in a way that brands him as a Useful Idiot and Dupe of the Left. He may think he pulled a fast one or that he’s preserving the integrity of the SCOTUS, but the Left is laughing at him behind his robed back and celebrating their capture of another Right Wing Dupe. This decision will not restore the image of The Court. In fact, it sends a message that the Chief Justice is willing to sacrifice The Constitution for the sake of a facade — the political image of SCOTUS in the public’s mind — and this will, perhaps fatally, damage the reputation of the SCOTUS in the eyes of the Right — the only group that respects The Court and it’s place in The American Experiment. If, however, Roberts believes what he wrote, then one cannot be blamed if he questions the mental health of the Chief Justice.

By stating that the Congress has an unlimited power to tax, Chief Justice Roberts and the Leftist Justices have declared that The Constitution does not mean what it says and that the Congress need not concern itself with enumerated powers when it comes to using the taxing power, which, as many wise men have pointed out over the centuries, is the power to destroy.

BC has some great comments Rush made today

Donald Douglas has two posts up, one trying to salvage some credibility for Roberts, sorry I am not buying it, not at all, but it is worth the read. The other raises the question. Did Roberts change his votes due to some type of pressure?

Gateway Pundit notes that Romney donations went ballistic after Roberts rewrote Obamacare to save it and has a great cartoon as well 

Governor Romney raised over $4 million in twenty hours following the Obamacaretax ruling yesterday by the Supreme Court.
The Hill reported, via Free Republic:

Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign has raised $4.2 million since the Supreme Court ruled President Obama’s healthcare law is constitutional.

Romney started raising funds immediately after the decision, and in a post on Twitter his campaign spokeswoman said he had raised $4.2 million from 42,000 donations.

“Fundraising update for #FullRepeal: 42k+ donations, $4.2 million raised online for @MittRomney since #scotus decision,” tweeted spokeswoman Andrea Saul.

Romney responded to the ruling by renewing his pledge to repeal the Affordable Care Act known as “Obamacare.”

He wrote in a fundraising email to supporters on Thursday: “Today, the Supreme Court upheld Obamacare. But regardless of what the Court said about the constitutionality of the law, Obamacare is bad medicine, it is bad policy, and when I’m president, the bad news of Obamacare will be over.”

One thing can be said of this, that fire in the American people’s hearts against big government is hotter than ever! NOW, this election is about the economy AND Obamacare, AND high taxes, and all of those added together equals a very bad November for Democrats!

Justices Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas And Alito: ObamaCare Dissent Transcript (Part 1 Of 6)

Justices Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas And Alito: ObamaCare Dissent Transcript – U.S. Supreme Court

Begin Transcript

SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES

Nos. 11–393, 11–398 and 11–400

NATIONAL FEDERATION OF INDEPENDENT BUSINESS, ET AL., PETITIONERS v KATHLEEN SEBELIUS, SECRETARY OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, ET AL. 11–393

DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, ET AL., PETITIONERS v. KATHLEEN SEBELIUS, SECRETARY OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, ET AL. 11–393

DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, ET AL., PETITIONERS v. FLORIDA ET AL. 11–398

FLORIDA, ET AL., PETITIONERS v. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES ET AL. 11–400

ON WRITS OF CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE ELEVENTH CIRCUIT

[June 28, 2012]

JUSTICE SCALIA, JUSTICE KENNEDY, JUSTICE THOMAS, and JUSTICE ALITO, dissenting.

Congress has set out to remedy the problem that the best health care is beyond the reach of many Americans who cannot afford it. It can assuredly do that, by exercising the powers accorded to it under the Constitution. The question in this case, however, is whether the complex structures and provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Affordable Care Act or ACA) go beyond those powers. We conclude that they do.

This case is in one respect difficult: it presents two questions of first impression. The first of those is whether failure to engage in economic activity (the purchase of health insurance) is subject to regulation under the Commerce Clause. Failure to act does result in an effect on commerce, and hence might be said to come under this Court’s “affecting commerce” criterion of Commerce Clause jurisprudence. But in none of its decisions has this Court extended the Clause that far. The second question is whether the congressional power to tax and spend, U. S. Const., Art. I, §8, cl. 1, permits the conditioning of a State’s continued receipt of all funds under a massive state-administered federal welfare program upon its acceptance of an expansion to that program. Several of our opinions have suggested that the power to tax and spend cannot be used to coerce state administration of a federal program, but we have never found a law enacted under the spending power to be coercive. Those questions are difficult.

The case is easy and straightforward, however, in another respect. What is absolutely clear, affirmed by the text of the 1789 Constitution, by the Tenth Amendment ratified in 1791, and by innumerable cases of ours in the 220 years since, is that there are structural limits upon federal power—upon what it can prescribe with respect to private conduct, and upon what it can impose upon the sovereign States. Whatever may be the conceptual limits upon the Commerce Clause and upon the power to tax and spend, they cannot be such as will enable the Federal Government to regulate all private conduct and to compel the States to function as administrators of federal programs.

That clear principle carries the day here. The striking case of Wickard v. Filburn, 317 U. S. 111 (1942), which held that the economic activity of growing wheat, even for one’s own consumption, affected commerce sufficiently that it could be regulated, always has been regarded as the ne plus ultra of expansive Commerce Clause jurisprudence. To go beyond that, and to say the failure to grow wheat (which is not an economic activity, or any activity at all) nonetheless affects commerce and therefore can be federally regulated, is to make mere breathing in and out the basis for federal prescription and to extend federal power to virtually all human activity.

As for the constitutional power to tax and spend for the general welfare: The Court has long since expanded that beyond (what Madison thought it meant) taxing and spending for those aspects of the general welfare that were within the Federal Government’s enumerated powers, see United States v. Butler, 297 U. S. 1, 65–66 (1936). Thus, we now have sizable federal Departments devoted to subjects not mentioned among Congress’ enumerated powers, and only marginally related to commerce: the Department of Education, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The principal practical obstacle that prevents Congress from using the tax-and-spend power to assume all the general-welfare responsibilities traditionally exercised by the States is the sheer impossibility of managing a Federal Government large enough to administer such a system. That obstacle can be overcome by granting funds to the States, allowing them to administer the program. That is fair and constitutional enough when the States freely agree to have their powers employed and their employees enlisted in the federal scheme. But it is a blatant violation of the constitutional structure when the States have no choice.

The Act before us here exceeds federal power both in mandating the purchase of health insurance and in denying nonconsenting States all Medicaid funding. These parts of the Act are central to its design and operation, and all the Act’s other provisions would not have been enacted without them. In our view it must follow that the entire statute is inoperative.

I

The Individual Mandate

Article I, §8, of the Constitution gives Congress the power to “regulate Commerce . . . among the several States.” The Individual Mandate in the Act commands that every “applicable individual shall for each month beginning after 2013 ensure that the individual, and any dependent of the individual who is an applicable individual, is covered under minimum essential coverage.” 26 U. S. C. §5000A(a) (2006 ed., Supp. IV). If this provision “regulates” anything, it is the failure to maintain minimum essential coverage. One might argue that it regulates that failure by requiring it to be accompanied by payment of a penalty. But that failure—that abstention from commerce—is not “Commerce.” To be sure, purchasing insurance is ”Commerce”; but one does not regulate commerce that does not exist by compelling its existence.

In Gibbons v. Ogden, 9 Wheat. 1, 196 (1824), Chief Justice Marshall wrote that the power to regulate commerce is the power “to prescribe the rule by which commerce is to be governed.” That understanding is consistent with the original meaning of “regulate” at the time of the Constitution’s ratification, when “to regulate” meant“[t]o adjust by rule, method or established mode,” 2 N. Webster, An American Dictionary of the English Language (1828); “[t]o adjust by rule or method,” 2 S. Johnson, A Dictionary of the English Language (7th ed. 1785); “[t]o adjust, to direct according to rule,” 2 J. Ash, New and Complete Dictionary of the English Language (1775); “toput in order, set to rights, govern or keep in order,” T. Dyche & W. Pardon, A New General English Dictionary (16th ed. 1777).1 It can mean to direct the manner of something but not to direct that something come into being. There is no instance in which this Court or Congress (or anyone else, to our knowledge) has used “regulate” in that peculiar fashion. If the word bore that meaning, Congress’ authority “[t]o make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces,” U. S. Const., Art. I, §8, cl. 14, would have made superfluous the later provision for authority “[t]o raise and supportArmies,” id., §8, cl. 12, and “[t]o provide and maintain a Navy,” id., §8, cl. 13.

We do not doubt that the buying and selling of health insurance contracts is commerce generally subject to federal regulation. But when Congress provides that (nearly) all citizens must buy an insurance contract, it goes beyond “adjust[ing] by rule or method,” Johnson, supra, or “direct[ing] according to rule,” Ash, supra; it directs the creation of commerce.

In response, the Government offers two theories as to why the Individual Mandate is nevertheless constitutional. Neither theory suffices to sustain its validity,

A

First, the Government submits that §5000A is “integral to the Affordable Care Act’s insurance reforms” and “necessary to make effective the Act’s core reforms.” Brief for Petitioners in No. 11–398 (Minimum Coverage Provision) 24 (hereinafter Petitioners’ Minimum Coverage Brief). Congress included a “finding” to similar effect in the Act itself. See 42 U. S. C. §18091(2)(H).

As discussed in more detail in Part V, infra, the Act contains numerous health insurance reforms, but most notable for present purposes are the “guaranteed issue” and “community rating” provisions, §§300gg to 300gg–4. The former provides that, with a few exceptions, “each health insurance issuer that offers health insurance coverage in the individual or group market in a State must accept every employer and individual in the State that applies for such coverage.” §300gg–1(a). That is, an insurer may not deny coverage on the basis of, among other things, any pre-existing medical condition that the applicant may have, and the resulting insurance must cover that condition. See §300gg–3.

Under ordinary circumstances, of course, insurers would respond by charging high premiums to individuals with pre-existing conditions. The Act seeks to prevent this through the community-rating provision. Simply put, the community-rating provision requires insurers to calculate an individual’s insurance premium based on only four factors:

(i) whether the individual’s plan covers just the individual or his family also,

(ii) the “rating area” in which the individual lives,

(iii) the individual’s age, and

(iv) whether the individual uses tobacco. §300gg(a)(1)(A).

Aside from the rough proxies of age and tobacco use (and possibly rating area), the Act does not allow an insurer tofactor the individual’s health characteristics into the price of his insurance premium. This creates a new incentive for young and healthy individuals without pre-existing conditions. The insurance premiums for those in this group will not reflect their own low actuarial risks but will subsidize insurance for others in the pool. Many of them may decide that purchasing health insurance is not an economically sound decision—especially since the guaranteedissue provision will enable them to purchase it at the same cost in later years and even if they have developed a pre-existing condition. But without the contribution of above-risk premiums from the young and healthy, the community-rating provision will not enable insurers to take on high-risk individuals without a massive increase in premiums.

The Government presents the Individual Mandate as a unique feature of a complicated regulatory scheme governing many parties with countervailing incentives that must be carefully balanced. Congress has imposed an extensive set of regulations on the health insurance industry, and compliance with those regulations will likely cost the industry a great deal. If the industry does not respond by increasing premiums, it is not likely to survive. And if the industry does increase premiums, then there is a serious risk that its products—insurance plans—will become economically undesirable for many and prohibitively ex- pensive for the rest.

This is not a dilemma unique to regulation of the healthinsurance industry. Government regulation typically imposes costs on the regulated industry—especially regulation that prohibits economic behavior in which most market participants are already engaging, such as “piecing out” the market by selling the product to different classes of people at different prices (in the present context, providing much lower insurance rates to young and healthy buyers). And many industries so regulated face the reality that, without an artificial increase in demand, they cannot continue on. When Congress is regulating these industries directly, it enjoys the broad power to enact “‘all appropriate legislation’” to “‘protec[t]’” and “‘advanc[e]’” commerce, NLRB v. Jones & Laughlin Steel Corp., 301 U. S. 1, 36–37 (1937) (quoting The Daniel Ball, 10 Wall. 557, 564 (1871)). Thus, Congress might protect the imperiled industry by prohibiting low-cost competition, or by according it preferential tax treatment, or even by granting it a direct subsidy.

Here, however, Congress has impressed into service third parties, healthy individuals who could be but are not customers of the relevant industry, to offset the undesirable consequences of the regulation. Congress’ desire to force these individuals to purchase insurance is motivated by the fact that they are further removed from the market than unhealthy individuals with pre-existing conditions, because they are less likely to need extensive care in the near future. If Congress can reach out and command even those furthest removed from an interstate market to participate in the market, then the Commerce Clause becomes a font of unlimited power, or in Hamilton’s words, “the hideous monster whose devouring jaws . . . spare neither sex nor age, nor high nor low, nor sacred nor profane.” The Federalist No. 33, p. 202 (C. Rossiter ed. 1961).

At the outer edge of the commerce power, this Court has insisted on careful scrutiny of regulations that do not act directly on an interstate market or its participants. In New York v. United States, 505 U. S. 144 (1992), we held that Congress could not, in an effort to regulate the disposal of radioactive waste produced in several different industries, order the States to take title to that waste. Id., at 174–177. In Printz v. United States, 521 U. S. 898 (1997), we held that Congress could not, in an effort to regulate the distribution of firearms in the interstate market, compel state law-enforcement officials to perform background checks. Id., at 933–935. In United States v. Lopez, 514 U. S. 549 (1995), we held that Congress could not, as a means of fostering an educated interstate labor market through the protection of schools, ban the possession of a firearm within a school zone. Id., at 559–563. And in United States v. Morrison, 529 U. S. 598 (2000), we held that Congress could not, in an effort to ensure the full participation of women in the interstate economy, subject private individuals and companies to suit for gendermotivated violent torts. Id., at 609–619. The lesson of these cases is that the Commerce Clause, even when supplemented by the Necessary and Proper Clause, is not carte blanche for doing whatever will help achieve the ends Congress seeks by the regulation of commerce. And the last two of these cases show that the scope of the Necessary and Proper Clause is exceeded not only when the congressional action directly violates the sovereignty of the States but also when it violates the background principle of enumerated (and hence limited) federal power.

The case upon which the Government principally relies to sustain the Individual Mandate under the Necessary and Proper Clause is Gonzales v. Raich, 545 U. S. 1 (2005). That case held that Congress could, in an effort to restrain the interstate market in marijuana, ban the local cultivation and possession of that drug. Id., at 15–22. Raich is no precedent for what Congress has done here. That case’s prohibition of growing (cf. Wickard, 317 U. S. 111), and of possession (cf. innumerable federal statutes) did not represent the expansion of the federal power to direct into a broad new field. The mandating of economic activity does, and since it is a field so limitless that it converts the Commerce Clause into a general authority to direct the economy, that mandating is not “consist[ent] with the letter and spirit of the constitution.” McCulloch v. Maryland, 4 Wheat. 316, 421 (1819).

Moreover, Raich is far different from the Individual Mandate in another respect. The Court’s opinion in Raich pointed out that the growing and possession prohibitions were the only practicable way of enabling the prohibition of interstate traffic in marijuana to be effectively enforced. 545 U. S., at 22. See also Shreveport Rate Cases, 234 U. S. 342 (1914) (Necessary and Proper Clause allows regulations of intrastate transactions if necessary to the regulation of an interstate market). Intrastate marijuana could no more be distinguished from interstate marijuana than, for example, endangered-species trophies obtained before the species was federally protected can be distinguished from trophies obtained afterwards—which made it necessary and proper to prohibit the sale of all such trophies, see Andrus v. Allard, 444 U. S. 51 (1979).

With the present statute, by contrast, there are many ways other than this unprecedented Individual Mandate by which the regulatory scheme’s goals of reducing insurance premiums and ensuring the profitability of insurers could be achieved. For instance, those who did not purchase insurance could be subjected to a surcharge when they do enter the health insurance system. Or they could be denied a full income tax credit given to those who do purchase the insurance.

The Government was invited, at oral argument, to suggest what federal controls over private conduct (other than those explicitly prohibited by the Bill of Rights or other constitutional controls) could not be justified as necessary and proper for the carrying out of a general regulatory scheme. See Tr. of Oral Arg. 27–30, 43–45 (Mar. 27, 2012). It was unable to name any. As we said at the outset, whereas the precise scope of the Commerce Clause and the Necessary and Proper Clause is uncertain, the proposition that the Federal Government cannot do everything is a fundamental precept. See Lopez, 514 U. S., at 564 (“[I]f we were to accept the Government’s arguments, we are hard pressed to posit any activity by an individual that Congress is without power to regulate”). Section 5000A is defeated by that proposition.

B

The Government’s second theory in support of the Individual Mandate is that §5000A is valid because it is actually a “regulat[ion of] activities having a substantial relation to interstate commerce, . . . i.e., . . . activities that substantially affect interstate commerce.” Id., at 558–559. See also Shreveport Rate Cases, supra. This argument takes a few different forms, but the basic idea is that §5000A regulates “the way in which individuals finance their participation in the health-care market.” Petitioners’ Minimum Coverage Brief 33 (emphasis added). That is, the provision directs the manner in which individuals purchase health care services and related goods (directing that they be purchased through insurance) and is therefore a straightforward exercise of the commerce power.

The primary problem with this argument is that §5000A does not apply only to persons who purchase all, or most, or even any, of the health care services or goods that the mandated insurance covers. Indeed, the main objection many have to the Mandate is that they have no intention of purchasing most or even any of such goods or services and thus no need to buy insurance for those purchases. The Government responds that the health-care market involves “essentially universal participation,” id., at 35. The principal difficulty with this response is that it is, in the only relevant sense, not true. It is true enough that everyone consumes “health care,” if the term is taken to include the purchase of a bottle of aspirin. But the health care “market” that is the object of the Individual Mandate not only includes but principally consists of goods and services that the young people primarily affected by the Mandate do not purchase. They are quite simply not participants in that market, and cannot be made so (and thereby subjected to regulation) by the simple device of defining participants to include all those who will, later in their lifetime, probably purchase the goods or services covered by the mandated insurance. 2 Such a definition of market participants is unprecedented, and were it to be a premise for the exercise of national power, it would have no principled limits.

In a variation on this attempted exercise of federal power, the Government points out that Congress in this Act has purported to regulate “economic and financial decision[s] to forego [sic] health insurance coverage and [to] attempt to self-insure,” 42 U. S. C. §18091(2)(A), since those decisions have “a substantial and deleterious effect on interstate commerce,” Petitioners’ Minimum Coverage Brief 34. But as the discussion above makes clear, the decision to forgo participation in an interstate market is not itself commercial activity (or indeed any activity at all) within Congress’ power to regulate. It is true that, at the end of the day, it is inevitable that each American will affect commerce and become a part of it, even if not by choice. But if every person comes within the Commerce Clause power of Congress to regulate by the simple reason that he will one day engage in commerce, the idea of a limited Government power is at an end.

Wickard v. Filburn has been regarded as the most expansive assertion of the commerce power in our history. A close second is Perez v. United States, 402 U. S. 146 (1971), which upheld a statute criminalizing the eminently local activity of loan-sharking. Both of those cases, however, involved commercial activity. To go beyond that, and to say that the failure to grow wheat or the refusal to make loans affects commerce, so that growing and lending can be federally compelled, is to extend federal power to virtually everything. All of us consume food, and when we do so the Federal Government can prescribe what its quality must be and even how much we must pay. But the mere fact that we all consume food and are thus, sooner or later, participants in the “market” for food, does not empower the Government to say when and what we will buy. That is essentially what this Act seeks to do with respect to the purchase of health care. It exceeds federal power.

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Justices Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas And Alito: ObamaCare Dissent Transcript (Part 2 Of 6)

Justices Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas And Alito: ObamaCare Dissent Transcript – U.S. Supreme Court

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C

A few respectful responses to JUSTICE GINSBURG’s dissent on the issue of the Mandate are in order. That dissent duly recites the test of Commerce Clause power that our opinions have applied, but disregards the premise the test contains. It is true enough that Congress needs only a “‘rational basis’ for concluding that the regulated activity substantially affects interstate commerce,” ante, at 15 (emphasis added). But it must be activity affecting commerce that is regulated, and not merely the failure to engage in commerce. And one is not now purchasing the health care covered by the insurance mandate simply because one is likely to be purchasing it in the future. Our test’s premise of regulated activity is not invented out of whole cloth, but rests upon the Constitution’s requirementthat it be commerce which is regulated. If all inactivity affecting commerce is commerce, commerce is everything. Ultimately the dissent is driven to saying that there is really no difference between action and inaction, ante, at 26, a proposition that has never recommended itself, neither to the law nor to common sense. To say, for example, that the inaction here consists of activity in “the selfinsurance market,” ibid., seems to us wordplay. By parity of reasoning the failure to buy a car can be called participation in the non-private-car-transportation market. Commerce becomes everything.

The dissent claims that we “fai[l] to explain why the individual mandate threatens our constitutional order.” Ante, at 35. But we have done so. It threatens that order because it gives such an expansive meaning to the Commerce Clause that all private conduct (including failure to act) becomes subject to federal control, effectively destroying the Constitution’s division of governmental powers. Thus the dissent, on the theories proposed for the validity of the Mandate, would alter the accepted constitutional relation between the individual and the National Government. The dissent protests that the Necessary and Proper Clause has been held to include “the power to enact criminal laws, . . . the power to imprison, . . . and the power to create a national bank,” ante, at 34–35. Is not the power to compel purchase of health insurance much lesser? No, not if (unlike those other dispositions) its application rests upon a theory that everything is within federal control simply because it exists.

The dissent’s exposition of the wonderful things the Federal Government has achieved through exercise of its assigned powers, such as “the provision of old-age and survivors’ benefits” in the Social Security Act, ante, at 2, is quite beside the point. The issue here is whether the federal government can impose the Individual Mandate through the Commerce Clause. And the relevant history is not that Congress has achieved wide and wonderful results through the proper exercise of its assigned powers in the past, but that it has never before used the Commerce Clause to compel entry into commerce. 3 The dissent treats the Constitution as though it is an enumeration of those problems that the Federal Government can address—among which, it finds, is “the Nation’s course in the economic and social welfare realm,” ibid., and more specifically “the problem of the uninsured,” ante, at 7. The Constitution is not that. It enumerates not federally soluble problems, but federally available powers. The Federal Government can address whatever problems it wants but can bring to their solution only those powers that the Constitution confers, among which is the power to regulate commerce. None of our cases say anything else. Article I contains no whatever-it-takes-to-solve-a-national problem power

The dissent dismisses the conclusion that the power to compel entry into the health-insurance market would include the power to compel entry into the new-car or broccoli markets. The latter purchasers, it says, “will be obliged to pay at the counter before receiving the vehicle or nourishment,” whereas those refusing to purchase health-insurance will ultimately get treated anyway, at others’ expense. Ante, at 21. “[T]he unique attributes of the health-care market . . . give rise to a significant freeriding problem that does not occur in other markets.” Ante, at 28. And “a vegetable-purchase mandate” (or a car-purchase mandate) is not “likely to have a substantial effect on the health-care costs” borne by other Americans. Ante, at 29. Those differences make a very good argument by the dissent’s own lights, since they show that the failure to purchase health insurance, unlike the failure to purchase cars or broccoli, creates a national, social-welfare problem that is (in the dissent’s view) included among the unenumerated “problems” that the Constitution authorizes the Federal Government to solve. But those differences do not show that the failure to enter the health-insurance market, unlike the failure to buy cars and broccoli, is an activity that Congress can “regulate.” (Of course one day the failure of some of the public to purchase American cars may endanger the existence of domestic automobile manufacturers; or the failure of some to eat broccoli may be found to deprive them of a newly discovered cancerfighting chemical which only that food contains, producing health-care costs that are a burden on the rest of us—in which case, under the theory of JUSTICE GINSBURG’s dissent, moving against those inactivities will also come within the Federal Government’s unenumerated problem solving powers.)

II
The Taxing Power

As far as §5000A is concerned, we would stop there. Congress has attempted to regulate beyond the scope of its Commerce Clause authority, 4 and §5000A is therefore invalid. The Government contends, however, as expressed in the caption to Part II of its brief, that “THE MINIMUM COVERAGE PROVISION IS INDEPENDENTLY AUTHORIZED BY CONGRESS’S TAXING POWER.” Petitioners’ Minimum Coverage Brief 52. The phrase “independently authorized” suggests the existence of a creature never hitherto seen in the United States Reports: A penalty for constitutional purposes that is also a tax for constitutional purposes. In all our cases the two are mutually exclusive. The provision challenged under the Constitution is either a penalty or else a tax. Of course in many cases what was a regulatory mandate enforced by a penalty could have been imposed as a tax upon permissible action; or what was imposed as a tax upon permissible action could have been a regulatory mandate enforced by a penalty. But we know of no case, and the Government cites none, in which the imposition was, for constitutional purposes, both. 5 The two are mutually exclusive. Thus, what the Government’s caption should have read was “ALTERNATIVELY, THE MINIMUM COVERAGE PROVISION IS NOT A MANDATE-WITHPENALTY BUT A TAX.” It is important to bear this in mind in evaluating the tax argument of the Government and of those who support it: The issue is not whether Congress had the power to frame the minimum-coverage provision as a tax, but whether it did so.

In answering that question we must, if “fairly possible,” Crowell v. Benson, 285 U. S. 22, 62 (1932), construe the provision to be a tax rather than a mandate-with-penalty, since that would render it constitutional rather than unconstitutional (ut res magis valeat quam pereat). But we cannot rewrite the statute to be what it is not. “‘“[A]l- though this Court will often strain to construe legislation so as to save it against constitutional attack, it must not and will not carry this to the point of perverting the purpose of a statute . . .” or judicially rewriting it.’” Commodity Futures Trading Comm’n v. Schor, 478 U. S. 833, 841 (1986) (quoting Aptheker v. Secretary of State, 378 U. S. 500, 515 (1964), in turn quoting Scales v. United States, 367 U. S. 203, 211 (1961)). In this case, there is simply no way, “without doing violence to the fair meaning of the words used,” Grenada County Supervisors v. Brogden, 112 U. S. 261, 269 (1884), to escape what Congress enacted: a mandate that individuals maintain minimum essential coverage, enforced by a penalty.

Our cases establish a clear line between a tax and a penalty: “‘[A] tax is an enforced contribution to provide for the support of government; a penalty . . . is an exaction imposed by statute as punishment for an unlawful act.’” United States v. Reorganized CF&I Fabricators of Utah, Inc., 518 U. S. 213, 224 (1996) (quoting United States v. La Franca, 282 U. S. 568, 572 (1931)). In a few cases, this Court has held that a “tax” imposed upon private conduct was so onerous as to be in effect a penalty. But we have never held—never—that a penalty imposed for violation of the law was so trivial as to be in effect a tax. We have never held that any exaction imposed for violation of the law is an exercise of Congress’ taxing power—evenwhen the statute calls it a tax, much less when (as here)the statute repeatedly calls it a penalty. When an act “adopt[s] the criteria of wrongdoing” and then imposes a monetary penalty as the “principal consequence on those who transgress its standard,” it creates a regulatory penalty, not a tax. Child Labor Tax Case, 259 U. S. 20, 38 (1922).

So the question is, quite simply, whether the exaction here is imposed for violation of the law. It unquestionably is. The minimum-coverage provision is found in 26 U. S. C. §5000A, entitled “Requirement to maintain minimum essential coverage.” (Emphasis added.) It commands that every “applicable individual shall . . . ensure that the individual . . . is covered under minimum essential coverage.” Ibid. (emphasis added). And the immediately following provision states that, “[i]f . . . an applicable individual . . . fails to meet the requirement of subsection (a) . . . there is hereby imposed . . . a penalty.” §5000A(b) (emphasis added). And several of Congress’ legislative “findings” with regard to §5000A confirm that it sets forth a legal requirement and constitutes the assertion of regulatory power, not mere taxing power. See 42 U. S. C. §18091(2)(A) (“The requirement regulates activity . . .”); §18091(2)(C) (“The requirement . . . will add millions of new consumers to the health insurance market . . .”); §18091(2)(D) (“The requirement achieves near-universal coverage”); §18091(2)(H) (“The requirement is an essential part of this larger regulation of economic activity, and the absence of the requirement would undercut Federal regulation of the health insurance market”); §18091(3) (“[T]he Supreme Court of the United States ruled that insurance is interstate commerce subject to Federal regulation”).

The Government and those who support its view on the tax point rely on New York v. United States, 505 U. S. 144, to justify reading “shall” to mean “may.” The “shall” in that case was contained in an introductory provision—a recital that provided for no legal consequences—which said that “[e]ach State shall be responsible for providing . . . for the disposal of . . . low-level radioactive waste.” 42 U. S. C. §2021c(a)(1)(A). The Court did not hold that “shall” could be construed to mean “may,” but rather that this preliminary provision could not impose upon the oper- ative provisions of the Act a mandate that they did not contain: “We . . . decline petitioners’ invitation to construe §2021c(a)(1)(A), alone and in isolation, as a command to the States independent of the remainder of the Act.” New York, 505 U. S., at 170. Our opinion then proceeded to “consider each [of the three operative provisions] in turn.” Ibid. Here the mandate—the “shall”—is contained not in an inoperative preliminary recital, but in the dispositive operative provision itself. New York provides no support for reading it to be permissive.

Quite separately, the fact that Congress (in its own words) “imposed . . . a penalty,” 26 U. S. C. §5000A(b)(1), for failure to buy insurance is alone sufficient to render that failure unlawful. It is one of the canons of interpretation that a statute that penalizes an act makes it unlawful: “[W]here the statute inflicts a penalty for doing an act, although the act itself is not expressly prohibited, yet to do the act is unlawful, because it cannot be supposed that the Legislature intended that a penalty should be inflicted for a lawful act.” Powhatan Steamboat Co. v. Appomattox R. Co., 24 How. 247, 252 (1861). Or in the words of Chancellor Kent: “If a statute inflicts a penalty for doing an act, the penalty implies a prohibition, and the thing is unlawful, though there be no prohibitory words in the statute.”

1 J. Kent, Commentaries on American Law 436 (1826).

We never have classified as a tax an exaction imposed for violation of the law, and so too, we never have classified as a tax an exaction described in the legislation itself as a penalty. To be sure, we have sometimes treated as a tax a statutory exaction (imposed for something other than a violation of law) which bore an agnostic label that does not entail the significant constitutional consequences of a penalty—such as “license” (License Tax Cases, 5 Wall. 462 (1867)) or “surcharge” (New York v. United States, supra.). But we have never—never—treated as a tax an exaction which faces up to the critical difference between a tax and a penalty, and explicitly denominates the exaction a “penalty.” Eighteen times in §5000A itself and elsewhere throughout the Act, Congress called the exaction in §5000A(b) a “penalty.”

That §5000A imposes not a simple tax but a mandate to which a penalty is attached is demonstrated by the fact that some are exempt from the tax who are not exempt from the mandate—a distinction that would make no sense if the mandate were not a mandate. Section 5000A(d) exempts three classes of people from the definition of “applicable individual” subject to the minimum coverage requirement: Those with religious objections or who participate in a “health care sharing ministry,” §5000A(d)(2); those who are “not lawfully present” in the United States, §5000A(d)(3); and those who are incarcerated, §5000A(d)(4). Section 5000A(e) then creates a separate set of exemptions, excusing from liability for the penalty certain individuals who are subject to the minimum coverage requirement: Those who cannot afford coverage, §5000A(e)(1); who earn too little income to require filing a tax return, §5000A(e)(2); who are members of an Indian tribe, §5000A(e)(3); who experience only short gaps in coverage, §5000A(e)(4); and who, in the judgment of the Secretary of Health and Human Services, “have suffered a hardship with respect to the capability to obtain coverage,” §5000A(e)(5). If §5000A were a tax, these two classes of exemption would make no sense; there being no requirement, all the exemptions would attach to the penalty (renamed tax) alone.

In the face of all these indications of a regulatory requirement accompanied by a penalty, the Solicitor General assures us that “neither the Treasury Department nor the Department of Health and Human Services interprets Section 5000A as imposing a legal obligation,” Petitioners’ Minimum Coverage Brief 61, and that “[i]f [those subject to the Act] pay the tax penalty, they’re in compliance with the law,” Tr. of Oral Arg. 50 (Mar. 26, 2012). These self-serving litigating positions are entitled to no weight. What counts is what the statute says, and that is entirely clear. It is worth noting, moreover, that these assurances contradict the Government’s position in related litigation. Shortly before the Affordable Care Act was passed, theCommonwealth of Virginia enacted Va. Code Ann. §38.2–3430.1:1 (Lexis Supp. 2011), which states, “No resident of [the] Commonwealth . . . shall be required to obtain or maintain a policy of individual insurance coverage exceptas required by a court or the Department of Social Services . . . .” In opposing Virginia’s assertion of standing to challenge §5000A based on this statute, the Government said that “if the minimum coverage provision is unconstitutional, the [Virginia] statute is unnecessary, and if the minimum coverage provision is upheld, the state statute is void under the Supremacy Clause.” Brief for Appellant in No. 11–1057 etc. (CA4), p. 29. But it would be void under the Supremacy Clause only if it was contradicted by a federal “require[ment] to obtain or maintain a policy of individual insurance coverage.”

Against the mountain of evidence that the minimum coverage requirement is what the statute calls it—a requirement—and that the penalty for its violation is what the statute calls it—a penalty—the Government brings forward the flimsiest of indications to the contrary. It notes that “[t]he minimum coverage provision amends the Internal Revenue Code to provide that a non-exempted individual . . . will owe a monetary penalty, in addition to the income tax itself,” and that “[t]he [Internal Revenue Service (IRS)] will assess and collect the penalty in the same manner as assessable penalties under the Internal Revenue Code.” Petitioners’ Minimum Coverage Brief 53. The manner of collection could perhaps suggest a tax if IRS penalty-collection were unheard-of or rare. It is not. See, e.g., 26 U. S. C. §527(j) (2006 ed.) (IRS-collectible penalty for failure to make campaign-finance disclosures); §5761(c) (IRS-collectible penalty for domestic sales of tobacco products labeled for export); §9707 (IRS-collectible penalty for failure to make required health-insurance premium payments on behalf of mining employees). In Reorganized CF&I Fabricators of Utah, Inc., 518 U. S. 213, we held that an exaction not only enforced by the Commissioner of Internal Revenue but even called a “tax” was in fact a penalty. “[I]f the concept of penalty means anything,” we said, “it means punishment for an unlawfulact or omission.” Id., at 224. See also Lipke v. Lederer, 259 U. S. 557 (1922) (same). Moreover, while the penalty is assessed and collected by the IRS, §5000A is administered both by that agency and by the Department of Health and Human Services (and also the Secretary of Veteran Affairs), see §5000A(e)(1)(D), (e)(5), (f)(1)(A)(v), (f)(1)(E) (2006 ed., Supp. IV), which is responsible for defining its substantive scope—a feature that would be quite extraordinary for taxes.

The Government points out that “[t]he amount of the penalty will be calculated as a percentage of household income for federal income tax purposes, subject to a floor and [a] ca[p],” and that individuals who earn so little money that they “are not required to file income tax returns for the taxable year are not subject to the penalty” (though they are, as we discussed earlier, subject to the mandate). Petitioners’ Minimum Coverage Brief 12, 53. But varying a penalty according to ability to pay is an utterly familiar practice. See, e.g., 33 U. S. C. §1319(d) (2006 ed., Supp. IV) (“In determining the amount of a civil penalty the court shall consider . . . the economic impact of the penalty on the violator”); see also 6 U. S. C. §488e(c); 7 U. S. C. §§7734(b)(2), 8313(b)(2); 12 U. S. C. §§1701q–1(d)(3), 1723i(c)(3), 1735f–14(c)(3), 1735f–15(d)(3), 4585(c)(2); 15 U. S. C. §§45(m)(1)(C), 77h–1(g)(3), 78u–2(d), 80a–9(d)(4), 80b–3(i)(4), 1681s(a)(2)(B), 1717a(b)(3), 1825(b)(1), 2615(a) (2)(B), 5408(b)(2); 33 U. S. C. §2716a(a).

The last of the feeble arguments in favor of petitioners that we will address is the contention that what this statute repeatedly calls a penalty is in fact a tax because it contains no scienter requirement. The presence of such a requirement suggests a penalty—though one can imagine a tax imposed only on willful action; but the absence of such a requirement does not suggest a tax. Penalties for absolute-liability offenses are commonplace. And where a statute is silent as to scienter, we traditionally presume a mens rea requirement if the statute imposes a “severe penalty.” Staples v. United States, 511 U. S. 600, 618 (1994). Since we have an entire jurisprudence addressing when it is that a scienter requirement should be inferred from a penalty, it is quite illogical to suggest that a penalty is not a penalty for want of an express scienter requirement.

And the nail in the coffin is that the mandate and penalty are located in Title I of the Act, its operative core, rather than where a tax would be found—in Title IX, .containing the Act’s “Revenue Provisions.” In sum, “the terms of [the] act rende[r] it unavoidable,” Parsons v. Bedford, 3 Pet. 433, 448 (1830), that Congress imposed a regulatory penalty, not a tax.

For all these reasons, to say that the Individual Mandate merely imposes a tax is not to interpret the statute but to rewrite it. Judicial tax-writing is particularly troubling. Taxes have never been popular, see, e.g., Stamp Act of 1765, and in part for that reason, the Constitution requires tax increases to originate in the House of Representatives. See Art. I, §7, cl. 1. That is to say, they must originate in the legislative body most accountable to the people, where legislators must weigh the need for the tax against the terrible price they might pay at their next election, which is never more than two years off. The Federalist No. 58 “defend[ed] the decision to give the origination power to the House on the ground that the Chamber that is more accountable to the people should have the primary role in raising revenue.” United States v. Munoz-Flores, 495 U. S. 385, 395 (1990). We have no doubt that Congress knew precisely what it was doing when it rejected an earlier version of this legislation that imposed a tax instead of a requirement-with-penalty. See Affordable Health Care for America Act, H. R. 3962, 111th Cong., 1st Sess., §501 (2009); America’s Healthy Future Act of 2009, S. 1796, 111th Cong., 1st Sess., §1301. Imposing a tax through judicial legislation inverts the constitutional scheme, and places the power to tax in the branch of government least accountable to the citizenry.

Finally, we must observe that rewriting §5000A as a tax in order to sustain its constitutionality would force us to confront a difficult constitutional question: whether this is a direct tax that must be apportioned among the States according to their population. Art. I, §9, cl. 4. Perhaps it is not (we have no need to address the point); but the meaning of the Direct Tax Clause is famously unclear, and its application here is a question of first impression that deserves more thoughtful consideration than the lick-and-a-promise accorded by the Government and its supporters. The Government’s opening brief did not even address the question—perhaps because, until today, no federal court has accepted the implausible argument that §5000A is an exercise of the tax power.And once respondents raised the issue, the Government devoted a mere 21 lines of its reply brief to the issue. Petitioners’ Minimum Coverage Reply Brief 25. At oral argument, the most prolonged statement about the issue was just over 50 words. Tr. of Oral Arg. 79 (Mar. 27, 2012). One would expect this Court to demand more than fly-by-night briefing and argument before deciding a difficult constitutional question of first impression.

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