An Advice Column for the Perplexed and Confused on Economic and Political Issues
[Editor’s Note: In his continuing effort to bring light and clarification to current events and current issues, The Dismal Political Economist is now answering reader’s questions on how the current political and economic climate affects them personally.]
Dear Dismal Political Economist
I have to make a decision soon on whether or not the new Federal health care law is constitutional. On a legal basis, it is. The Federal government requires all sorts of behavior for the public good, and it can certainly require the minority that goes without health insurance to get some, and stop foisting their health care costs on the rest of us.
On personal basis though I have a problem. Not with health insurance, my Federal government provided health insurance is the best in the entire country. No, it is that if I rule on the legal basis that the health care law is constitutional, my Conservative friends on the Court will hate me. See they believe our job is to use our position on the Supreme Court to force our policy views on the country rather than to rule on the legality of things.
Even worse, if I vote in favor of the law, the head of the Court is going to also vote in favor, and then he gets to write the opinion and not me. But everyone will still hate me because they know he voted just to give himself a right to write, not because he believes in what he is writing. And they are already mad at me because I think a woman has the Constitutional right to control her own body and make her own reproductive decisions, and they think that is the role of government
Any advice here?
Tony K. in Washington, D. C.
We feel your pain. But you know, years from now if you vote in favor of this bill everyone except for a few holdouts is going to praise your wisdom and forward thinking, and not really care about what your Conservative brethren on the Court feel. On the other hand, if you rule against this on personal grounds where the law is overwhelmingly against you, then you will be remembered historically as just one of those Conservative judges who substituted what he or she believes is right in place of the law.
Look, your colleagues can never be satisfied, even if you appease them on this issue they will still dislike you unless you vote their way every time. So don’t worry about them, history will take care of judging them, you just do the right thing. To paraphrase Mark Twain, that will confuse the Conservatives and astonish the rest of us.