WASHINGTON, December 19, 2013 — The embattled Health and Human Services Secretary, Kathleen Sebelius, has said of the Affordable Care Act, “It was passed and signed three years ago. It was upheld by the Supreme Court a year ago. The president was re-elected. This is the law of the land.”
So the ACA has special status: The Supreme Court has spoken, and Obamacare has joined the Bill of Rights as invulnerable and untouchable.
Never mind that this tax bill — the Supreme Court said that it is a tax bill — did not originate in the House, as the Constitution says tax bills must. Forget that it forces Americans to buy a product, something that Chief Justice Roberts said in his majority opinion was beyond a legitimate reading of the Constitution’s commerce clause. Obamacare is constitutional, it is the law of the land, and therefore it can never be repealed.
Consider some other things that were once constitutional laws of the land.
1. The 18th Amendment, better known as the Volstead Act, or Prohibition, become the law of the land on January 7, 1920. Prohibition made it illegal to buy, sell, or move alcohol. Oddly enough, it did not ban the consumption or possession of alcohol. It was basically like playing sharks and minnows in the streets until you got it back to your house, where it was safe to consume.
They consumed a lot in the 1920s and 30s. The law almost single-handedly give rise to organized crime in the United States. Criminal organizations competed all over the country to control production, importation, and distribution of alcoholic beverages. Corruption among public officials was not only rampant, it was almost expected.
The law was extremely unpopular. Despite being described in the “Journal of the Assembly of the State of New York” as “the law of the land, universally operative regardless of action or inaction by the states,” the Volstead act was repealed in 1933 with the ratification of the 21st amendment, which can only be described as the “Our Bad” act of 1933. However it was not all bad; the Prohibition era gave us Boardwalk Empire and NASCAR.
2. It was the law of the land in Delaware after the American Revolution that Jews, Quakers and Catholics could not serve in public office. The U.S. Constitution quickly put the kibosh on that in 1791 by abolishing religious tests as a requirement for office.
3. Until the reforms of the Jacksonian era, you had to be a land owning, white male in order to vote. Males of all colors and backgrounds were not given the vote until the passage of the 14th and 15th Amendments, which amounted to the granting of Universal Suffrage for American males over 21. Women did not achieve the vote until the passage of the 19th Amendment in 1920. The United States did not fully recognize the voting rights of all American citizens until the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which granted universal suffrage to all adult Americans. The law of the land changed, and changed again, on a fundamental constitutional principle.
4. The law of the land once included the Racial Integrity Act of 1924, which made marriage between different races illegal in Virginia. And earlier in Virginia, the offspring of an African-American and an Irish immigrant could be sold into slavery. This followed the now repealed Page Act of 1875, which blocked the immigration of “undesirable” Chinese men and women who might fall to forced labor or prostitution.
5. It was illegal for Chinese people to immigrate to the United States.
6. Slavery was once the constitutional law of the land.
The full list would fill volumes, but what about laws that are still today laws of the land? What company does the Affordable Healthcare Act find itself in when it flies that particular flag?
1. No bear wrestling in Alabama.
2. No yellow margarine in Missouri.
3. One cannot deny the existence of God in Massachusetts; to do so incurs a $200 fine.
4. In Florida, you have to be clothed while taking a bath.
5. No pants for women in Tucson, Arizona.
6. It’s the noose for you if you get caught stealing horses in the Sunshine State.
7. Ears must be free of coins in Hawaii. Sorry, grandparents; bond with the grandkids some other way.
8. In Chicago it is illegal to eat in a location that is currently ablaze.
9. In Iowa it is legal to shoot at Native Americans if at least five of them happen to be convening on your property.
10. It is illegal to hunt whales in Kansas, which must be a real hindrance to their economic growth.
To say that Obamacare is the law of the land means nothing. Some laws of the land are idiotic. Some have been change, some have been made unconstitutional. President Obama and his allies trampled the current law of the land just to be able to pass and adjust the ACA.
Obama does not care about the law. His constant attacks on the 1st, 2nd, and 4th Amendments have demonstrated his contempt for the Bill of Rights. This makes his defense of Obamacare with the argument that it’s the law of the land and constitutional brazen. There are a lot of things that are the law that he is willing to ignore or even to dismantle.
There are arguments that Obama and Sebelius could use to defend Obamacare, but of all of those, “it’s the law of the land” is the most absurd. It’s absurd because it’s irrelevant.
If you’re going to church in Maine, remember to take your shotgun; the law says you have to in order to fend off attacks from Native American war bands. It is the law of the land, after all.
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