Oklahoma City University law professor surprised at “Court’s lineup and reasoning”
Published: June 28th, 2012
Professor Andrew Spiropoulos, a well-known law professor at the Oklahoma City University College of Law, commented on the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in the “ObamaCare” case on Thursday evening (June 28).
He told CapitolBeatOK, “I am not surprised by the result — I always thought that the Court would uphold the law. But I think all of us are surprised by the Court’s lineup and reasoning. The conventional wisdom was that the key challenge was the Intestate Commerce Clause argument, with most experts believing that Justice Anthony Kennedy would cast the deciding vote to uphold the law.
“It is surprising that a majority of the Court, including Justice Kennedy, would conclude that the law is unconstitutional under the Commerce Clause and that, even more surprising, the entire law should be struck down. But no one expected that Chief Justice John Roberts would break away from the ‘conservative; wing of the Court, and without Justice Kennedy, vote to uphold the law on the Taxing Clause grounds.”
Spiropoulos continued, “What I find most interesting about the opinion is that other than the result — plug in the Mrs. Lincoln joke at this point — the opinions, on point after point, read like a conservative lawyer’s dream. For the first time in 65 years, a majority of the Court calls for a real limit on the authority of the government to regulate the economy using the Commerce Clause. For the first time since the New Deal, as well, a majority of the Court opines that there are genuine limits to how Congress can use its power to condition federal spending to pressure states to conform to federal policy.
“The most important aspect of the Court’s opinion, though, and one that, no matter what one’s opinion about the President’s health care scheme, in the long term, may be good for the nation, is that it leaves the ultimate authority to make health care policy to the people and their representatives.”
Spiropoulos, who studies state-level policy and constitutional issues in addition to his teaching duties, explained his rationale, saying, “If the Court had struck down the law, our nation, on one side, would have been filled with cries of the Court’s abuse of power and illegitimate takeover of public policy, and, on the other, by a complacent sense that the battle against abusive state intervention in our health care choices had been won.
“Both of these responses would have been harmful, and the Court’s decision to leave matters to the people may be best for all concerned.”