Judge Not

Hey, remember two weeks ago, when a federal judge in Michigan ruled that ObamaCare’s individual mandate was constitutional? The judge in that case ruled that under the Commerce Clause, Congress could legally require every individual American could be required to purchase a product.

For those who have forgotten, here’s the relevant portion of the Constitution — Article I, Section 8:

The Congress shall have Power To…regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes…

The atrociousness of that particular ruling is an argument that’s been made before and will be made again, but that’s not my focus here. Instead, I want to recall the response of a lot of ObamaCare supporters was “hey, a judge ruled it’s legal! So all you con troglodytes just shut your pieholes and suck it up, losers!” (I paraphrase loosely).

Well, yesterday another judge ruled that “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was legal and could stand as the law of the land, overturning a previous ruling. So, can we count on the same people to shut their pieholes and suck it up?

Of course not. A judge’s ruling is only absolute and final when he or she agrees with you. Otherwise, it’s the worst miscarriage of justice that will be appealed and overturned when more reasonable heads prevail.

In reality (which some folks — mostly on the left, but a few on the right as well — could stand to visit every now and then), there are no “final” decisions on highly controversial issues. Even Supreme Court decisions can be fought and reversed.

Remember Dred Scott? Obliterated by Constitutional amendments XIII-XV. Plessy v. Ferguson? Overturned in Brown v. Board of Education.

Likewise, other Supreme Court decisions are built on very shaky reasoning, but are still the law of the land — for now. Roe v. Wade and Kelo v. City Of New London come to my mind immediately as decisions that were woefully wrong-headed and did violence to the letter and spirit of the Constitution.

That’s how our system works. Almost nothing is graven in stone — it’s all subject to revisiting and reinterpretation and correction. The Constitution lays out numerous ways it can be done, and indeed has been done over the centuries. In fact, the best description I’ve ever encountered of the United States system of governance as “institutionalized revolution.”

So, currently, one judge has ruled that Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is valid and another has upheld some of the more malodorous portions of ObamaCare are, too. Big whoop. Both cases will end up before the Supreme Court, and even then the backers of the losing side will keep fighting it out for years to come. It ain’t over until it’s over, and sometimes not even then.

It’s the American way.

Update: if anyone needed any proof that I’m not a lawyer, check the comments — I missed citing Bush v. Gore and Citizens United as examples of Supreme Court verdicts the liberals still want to fight, and I kinda sorta mangled the Plessy/Brown situation. Even more embarrassing, I mistook the DADT injunction as a decision, which was the impetus for the entire article. But I think my points are still valid.

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