Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Cheers to Judge Jeffrey Sutton!

In my continuing series of salutes to Republicans with integrity, here is a shout out to Judge Jeffrey S. Sutton of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, which today became the first Circuit Court to rule on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act. Judge Sutton, who was appointed by President George W. Bush, is known for being a strong advocate of states' rights in a number of cases before the Supreme Court, and also for being a well-respected conservative legal scholar.

Judge Sutton joined in the court's 2-1 opinion upholding the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, and authored a concurring opinion explaining why the federal government has the power under the Constitution's Commerce Clause to penalize individuals who choose not to purchase health insurance under the law's mandate. Here's just one excerpt from his well-written opinion:
"The basic policy idea, for better or worse (and courts must assume better), is to compel individuals with the requisite income to pay now rather than later for health care. Faced with $43 billion in uncompensated care, Congress reasonably could require all covered individuals to pay for health care now so that money would be available later to pay for all care as the need arises. Call this mandate what you will—an affront to individual autonomy or an imperative of national health care—it meets the requirement of regulating activities that substantially affect interstate commerce."
The media so far has seemed to pay more attention to the couple of district court opinions holding the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional than to the majority that have upheld it. Opponents of health insurance reform will no doubt continue to argue loudly for its repeal or for overturning it in the courts. But today's decision shows that the opponents are losing the argument. And that is due to judges like Jeffrey Sutton who are more concerned with principled resolution of important constitutional issues than they are with politics.

(Previous recipients: Rand PaulJan Brewer, Kit Bond, Lindsey Graham)

UPDATE (6/30/11): See this Steve Benen column documenting the discrepancy in coverage of court decisions upholding the constitutionality of the Act vs. coverage of decisions finding it unconstitutional.)

10 comments:

  1. you are kind of dumb and pathetic. What else would you like to be forced to do by the government?
    Your hard-on for obama is a little disturbing; he's just a dude.. Someday you will become a big boy, get off your knees, get a real job, and start providing for yourself. Maybe then you will accomplish things and stop your wierd obsession with a president that you think is going to provide for you. Barak Obama is not your mother. Grow some balls and stop crying to other people for things you need. Until then: HOPE AND CHANGE!!

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  2. Joe is not looking for a hand out. Rather, he is looking to give a hand up to others. I do not agree on many issues but I don't question his intelligence or his sincerity.

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  3. Joe, I still believe most of the Affordable Care Act is poorly written. I would defer to legal scholars acting as non partisans (ie judges) to determine whether parts of it are unconstitutional. I don’t think we are going to see a consensus on that subject. Of course Sutton does not need a consensus to give an honest opinion. Honor in the Circuit Court includes progressive and conservatives appointees who have senate confirmation. Saying that liberal or conservative judges confirmed by the senate have integrity is not noteworthy. Saying anything else is noteworthy.

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  4. Thanks Kevin for sticking up for me. But anybody who has to engage in ad hominem attacks to make their points I don't take seriously anyway, and I probably should just delete those kinds of comments. This time, however, Ethan, I'll just let you off with a warning.

    Ethan's point about where we draw the line as far as what the government can force us to do is a valid point, and one that Judge Sutton actually discusses at length in his opinion. It's worth reading.

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  5. It'll be going to the Supreme Court. The government should not be allowed to force somebody to buy something such as healthcare and fine you if you do not.

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  6. I hate to break it to you, Harrison, but you're already being forced to pay for healthcare. You're paying for Judge Sutton's healthcare for one thing, because he is a federal employee. And you're paying for every veterans' health care. And you're paying into Medicare and Medicaid. And you're paying the cost, directly or indirectly, of every hospital that is compelled to take in patients in the emergency room even if they can't afford to pay. So why shouldn't people have to pay for their own health care in addition to that? It would actually save you the cost of a lot of those emergency room visits.

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  7. I tend to agree with you Harrison, that it will go to the Supreme Court. I am conflicted in a legal sense. I am concerned how passage will be viewed as a precedet. Do you feel the mandate would be legal if passed on the state to state level; as auto insurance is dealt with in Cali?

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  8. JM, there are limits to the types of responses a host should allow. Your blog is a personal website. At some point we understand that reading the stuff ethan posted make us less healthy. I would urge you to use the delete button.

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  9. Thanks again for the support, KP. I think I'll let Ethan's comment stand, since it was his first time here, and because he did make one valid point, even though he threw in a lot of unnecessary name-calling and other garbage.

    And for anyone else who might read this comment, there is no name-calling allowed on this site. I reserve the right to delete any comments by anyone who engages in name-calling. Disagreements and strong viewpoints are welcome, but no name-calling.

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  10. Joe, I would like to apologize for my incredibly rude comments.. Completely out of character. I was reading your blog to to see an articulate argument from the other side and I went into a personal attack because of a difference in opinion.

    My Point, which you summed up for me, was that there needs to be limits on what the government can force us to do. With Sutton's opinion that since the 1930's the court "has given Congress wide berth in regulating commerce," it is difficult to figure out where that limit could be. With this justification, couldn't they tell us that we can only buy american-made cars in order to save the country's struggling auto industry (and manufacturing industry in general). If we don't, even more factories will close and more people will lose their jobs. This logic could be applied to anything.

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