When Words Mean Nothing, the Rule of Law is Nothing

The Supreme Court has gone full Supreme Court again. Words were made to be something entirely different from their literal meaning, and the judiciary saved a massive federal takeover of the health care system (again). But yet again, are any of us surprised?

The Affordable Care Act was the federal governments ‘all-in’ move. And for them, it paid off (out of our pockets, mind you). They got what they wanted: effective government control of the health care industry, leaving 300 million+ at the mercy of a Leviathan bureaucracy.

Garrett Humbertson, Assistant Editor for Red Millennial, delivered the following statement regarding the ruling:

The Supreme Court has forsaken its responsibility to check executive overreach while rewriting existing law and thus corrupted the constitutional structure. We are at a very dangerous time in American history where the three branches of government are working in tandem to empower each other, instead of checking each other to secure the rights of the people as the Framers envisioned.

In this case though, there is an even more fundamental aspect of the American Constitutional system at stake. It is not the ability of citizens to choose what to buy or not buy, nor of the ability of markets to operate freely. What is at stake is the Rule of Law.

The term “Rule of Law” is a term that is often times thrown around carelessly. One must not do so due to the seriousness of the issue. The Rule of Law is the most fundamental implicit value upon which the American Constitution was written. The Founders would not have written a Constitution if they did not want a Rule of Law. Freedom can only exist under a Rule of Law. Why is that? Well I’m glad you asked.

Friedrich von Hayek, one of the most well-respected economists of the Austrian school of economics, wrote of the importance of the Rule of Law in his book The Road to Serfdom. Hayek witnessed the takeover of Germany by the Nazis personally. The Nazis, or National Socialists, undertook a massive scheme to fundamentally transform the German state into a rigid, fascist, socialist state. A fundamental aspect of establishing a socialist state is the planning of the economy. A fundamental aspect of planning the economy is the destruction of the Rule of Law.

The importance of the Rule of Law must not be underestimated. Hayek knew this when he wrote The Road to Serfdom:

The Rule of Law was consciously evolved only during the liberal age [liberal as in Classical Liberal] and is one of its greatest achievements, not only as a safeguard but as the legal embodiment of freedom.

The Rule of Law restrains the passions and agitations of man. The opposite of the Rule of Law is the Rule of Man. In layman’s terms, this is known as tyranny.
The Rule of Man is arbitrary, based simply upon the whims of the legislator or king (or judge), upon his interests, moods, profits, friends, enemies, etc. This was the rule for most of history. The American experience has been the exception, where the arbitrariness of man has been restrained by a system of checks and balances, separation of powers, federalism, and most importantly, the Rule of Law.

What is the Rule of Law? Let’s ask our good friend Hayek:

[I]f the actions of the state are to be predictable, they must be determined by rules fixed independently of the concrete circumstances which can neither be foreseen nor taken into account beforehand: and the particular effects of such actions will be unpredictable. If, on the other hand, the state were to direct the individual’s actions to as to achieve particular ends [perhaps universal health coverage?], its action would have to be decided on the basis of the full circumstances of the moment and would therefore be unpredictable. Hence the familiar fact that the more the state “plans,” the more difficult planning becomes for the individual.

See the importance of the Rule of Law? Without consistency in governance, both of the citizenry and of the State itself, freedom is an impossibility. Consistency requires certain simple procedure be followed; one of them is to read words the way they were written, and not the way some want them to be interpreted.

Justice Antonin Scalia delivered a scathing dissent in King vs. Burwell. Among some of the top quotes of the dissent was “We should start calling this law SCOTUScare” (referring to the Court’s dubious rescue of the law, now twice). The Supreme Court has now twice reworded the healthcare law to say something completely different than what the words actually say.

In 2012, the issue was the “penalty” for non-compliance with the individual mandate to buy health insurance. SCOTUS up and said “Don’t worry, it’s a tax so it’s okay!” In 2015, SCOTUS said “Don’t worry, the federal government and the states are the same thing!”

This is a blatant example of the State perverting the simple meaning of words to fit a specific agenda. Separation of powers? Out the window. Rule of Law? You need a bigger window out of which to throw it out.

When the words “established by the State” can also mean “established by the State or by the federal government,” the Rule of Law is disregarded. The words either mean what they say, or they don’t. One does not simply say that the word “State” also encompassed the federal government. But when it comes to the planners of the federal government, the Rule of Law is not a concern. In fact, it is merely an impediment to their planning and social engineering schemes.

Those who benefit from the ruling are not those who will get to keep their “tax credits.” It is the bureaucrats, the pharmaceutical corporations and their cronies, and Obama himself. What a blow to his administration of this section was struck down!

Who are the losers here? You and I are, my friend. Words do not have meaning at the highest Court in the land. When the words of a law like the PPACA are twisted to mean something that they do no, what prevents them from treating the law in such a manner? Our Constitution now has several incidents of recent precedent that enable the federal government to continue its disregard and contempt for Constitutional limitations.

If words have no meaning as they did at the Supreme Court, the law means nothing. There is not a constant, fixed process by which the government must act because the rules which are written to limit it now mean nothing. Our First Amendment rights will mean nothing because “freedom of speech” can mean anything. The right to “keep and bear arms” can now mean anything. The right to be secure against “unreasonable search and seizure” now can mean anything. Get the idea?

The Rule of Law has been slowly eroded for decades since the dawn of the Progressive era. With this ruling though, it’s a turning point. Plain words were made into something that they clearly were not. Only a lawyer could make the words “established by the State” mean “established by the State or by the federal government.”

Follow Seth on Twitter: @sconnell1776

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