Sen. Lee to Newsmax: The Court 'Let This One Go'

Thursday, 28 Jun 2012 07:09 PM

By Todd Beamon and Kathleen Walter

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The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision upholding Obamacare “shifts the constitutional analysis back to the people,” Utah Sen. Mike Lee tells Newsmax.TV.

“It becomes that much more of an election issue. Any time you have the courts declining to invalidate something as unconstitutional, it shifts the constitutional analysis back to the people,” the Republican senator, a constitutional lawyer who has clerked for Justice Samuel Alito, told Newsmax on Thursday.

“It shifts back to the people the prerogative of deciding what kind of government they want to have. So in this instance, the court let this one go.

“The people are going to demand that their representatives in Congress do better than this. And they’re going to demand that Congress allow individual Americans to make their own health care decisions.”

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Lee praised the court’s 5-4 decision, adding that he had not yet discussed it with his former boss, Justice Alito.

“It’s a historic day. This is a good day for America in that the Supreme Court recognized there are limits Congress’ power.

“This is good for Americans who felt like it was wrong for Congress to be able to claim the power to do just about anything.

“At the same time, it’s a disappointment to those of us who look at the mandate and are concerned with it because the court, at the end of the day, upheld the mandate. Upheld it like including that it was a tax, even though Congress and the president said it was not a tax.”

The first-term senator was surprised that Chief Justice John Roberts aligned himself with the court’s liberal majority – but even moreso at “how he did it, the fact that he concluded that the individual mandate amounted to a tax.”

In his majority opinion, Roberts wrote that the individual mandate requiring uninsured Americans to buy health coverage was constitutional because its penalty was in effect a tax – bringing it within the taxing authority of Congress.

“I strongly disagree with this conclusion,” he added. “I didn’t see this coming, and none of the court watchers that I know and that I confer with regularly saw it coming.

“It was shocking. It was surprising, and it was wrong. I respect the fact that it’s the ruling of the court, but the court made a mistake.”

States can refuse to implement Obamacare, Lee said, but “there are, of course, consequences to that. They stand to lose significant federal funding if they do.

“But that’s where one aspect of the court’s ruling today comes in handy, which is that – at least with respect to the Medicaid expansion provisions – the states will be permitted to refuse to implement those because forcing them to do so would, as the Supreme Court concluded today, amount to unconstitutional coercion.”

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