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They Mean Well


Yesterday a local radio host played a sound bite of Commissioner Mike Opat saying that the Constitution is not relevant in Hennepin County. The context was whether the county was prepared for a scenario where ObamaUnicornCare was declared unconstitutional. He didn’t quite blithely dismiss the highest law of the land. He just seemed focused on making government do the work he thinks government should do.

The bite, in two versions, surely sounded hostile to the concept of government by the people. Opat sees things that need doing, and by god he’s going to bend or ignore the law for the good of the people.

MaxedOutMama has lengthy post about the Constitution and UnicornCare. Evidently, in Wisconsin, where the plan is facing a legal challenge, there are legislators who share Opat’s sentiment. MOM quotes from Ann Althouse:

Then she posts about the debate:

Richards was having none of this abstract rule-of-law business.Economic realities should trump legal jargon, he said. He portrayed constitutional law a matter of technical conceptions that shouldn't be allowed to stop government from doing the things that need to be done.

I was rather stunned at the conception of the law that Ann presents as predominating in the audience and being well represented in the debate.

If law doesn't matter at all, then why bother with it? And if the Constitution doesn't mean anything, what is the function of the Supreme Court anyway? And what are the long-run chances that an institution like the Supreme Court would effectively rule itself out of business? I know that Breyer's active liberty conception makes sense to him, but but if his logic were truly followed, there would either be no need of the Supreme Court or the Supreme Court would be the last arbiter of the legislative process, thus negating a representative form of government.

From the Wikipedia link above:

In it, Breyer urges judges to interpret legal provisions (of the Constitution or of statutes)in light of the purpose of the text and how well the consequences of specific rulings will fit those purposes.

In other words, Justice Breyer thinks the Supremes should put the intent of Congress above the letter of the law.