Madness of the Queen of Hearts
In the Commentary section of today's Washington Times, U.S. Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif) has an op-ed saying that "Americans will pass final judgment on Obamacare come Election Day."
He argues that the Supreme Court erred in overturning the "individual mandate" and by converting a penalty into a tax. His argument:
"In reaching its conclusion, the court obliterated a fundamental distinction between a penalty and a tax. Congress has the power to lay and collect taxes, and therefore, the court reasons that it can apply a tax for any purpose, even those otherwise outside the confines of the Constitution.
"In this case, the court ruled that Congress could not pass a law requiring citizens to purchase a government-approved health plan under the Commerce Clause, but it can enforce exactly the same requirement through a tax. Government cannot fine you for disobeying an otherwise unconstitutional edict, but it can tax you for disobeying it.
"Whether the government enforces a law with a tax or a fine, the effect is the same: it is coercing behavior under the threat of confiscating one’s property. But there are two profound differences that ought to alarm every American, whatever their views on Obamacare.
"First, if the government enforces the law through a fine, the burden of proof is on the government to prove that the individual actually broke that law. As a tax, the burden of proof is on the individual to prove that he obeyed it. Anyone who has ever undergone an Internal Revenue Service audit knows exactly what this means. Whenever the new doctrine is applied, it upends the most cherished principle of our justice system: the presumption of innocence.
"There is a second, even more chilling difference between a penalty and a tax: Under our Constitution, no penalty can be assessed without due process - every American has a right to a day in court before being punished. But a tax can only be challenged in court after it has been paid - that is, after the punishment has been imposed."
According to McClintock, "This is the madness of the Queen of Hearts in Lewis Carroll's “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” brought to life: “Sentence first - verdict afterwards.” More specifically, McClintock says, "There do not appear to be any bounds in the application of this new legal doctrine."
Remember to vote on Tuesday, November 6, 2012. If you have any questions, information is available at Arlington County's Office of Voter Registration. Their phone number is (703) 228-3456.