Time Magazine: Court Ruling on ObamaCare 'Significant Win'; But Is It?

With low poll approval ratings and the prospect of his congressional allies in Congress taking a drubbing in November, it's hardly surprising the liberal media are looking for any silver lining for Obama that it can find.

Enter Time magazine's Kate Pickert, who on the magazine's Swampland blog yesterday claimed that a ruling upholding ObamaCare's constitutionality yesterday was a "significant victory for the Obama administration."

A temporary boost, perhaps, but significant? The ruling was at the District Court level, and the public interest firm representing the plaintiffs plans to appeal to the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals. Plus Pickert herself noted that there are plenty of other court challenges against ObamaCare, and they are not all bound to come down the same way District Court Judge George Steeh ruled yesterday.

What is significant is how Judge Steeh's reasoning profoundly obliterates the scope of the Constitution's interstate commerce clause to define refraining from commerce as commerce. It's an open question if appellate courts agree.

From the ruling (emphasis mine):

The health care market is unlike other markets. No one can guarantee his or her health, or ensure that he or she will never participate in the health care market. Indeed, the opposite is nearly always true. The question is how participants in the health care market pay for medical expenses - through insurance, or through an attempt to pay out of pocket with a backstop of uncompensated care funded by third parties.

[...]

The plaintiffs have not opted out of the health care services market because, as living, breathing beings, who do not oppose medical services on religious grounds, they cannot opt out of this market. As inseparable and integral members of the health care services market, plaintiffs have made a choice regarding the method of payment for the services they expect to receive. The government makes the apropos analogy of paying by credit card rather than by check. How participants in the health care services market pay for such services has a documented impact on interstate commerce. Obviously, this market reality forms the rational basis for Congressional action designed to reduce the number of uninsureds.

[...]

[P]laintiffs in this case are participants in the health care services market. They are not outside the market. While plaintiffs describe the Commerce Clause power as reaching economic activity, the government’s characterization of the Commerce Clause reaching economic decisions is more accurate.

With that reasoning, Judge Steeh thoroughly unmoors the commerce clause from its concern with actual economic activity that Congress can regulate to a more amorphous realm of "economic decisions" which apparently include the decision to NOT enter into commerce at all.

That's the true significant aspect of yesterday's ruling, and it will prove interesting to see how the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals would handle Judge Steeh's reasoning and conclusions.

But a significant victory for Obama? It's far too early to tell, although it's understandable why Obama cheerleaders in the media would like to paint it that way.

Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd is the Managing Editor for NewsBusters