Don't Believe Everything You Read in the Papers

Perhaps it's because I've been away a'prayin' for a week but I don't feel very shaken by SCOTUS' upholding Obamacare. I'm too tired and have too much practical re-entry to take care of to actually read the opinion, but I'm cautiously hopeful that Chief Roberts did something prudent and somewhat good by upholding Obamacare as a tax.

Michael James Barton writes:
Had Obamacare been upheld under the Commerce Clause, then our Constitution would have been a dead letter without limits on congressional power. We still have our Constitution.
The Court reiterates that Congress has the power to regulate commerce, not compel it. This is also good news. The Court’s explicit rejection of using the Commerce Clause and the Necessary and Proper Clause to justify the individual mandate makes any future congressional desire to accomplish similar aims more difficult. In short, pushing a tax through Congress while claiming its not a tax is appears to be a one-time occurrence since this decision sets a precedent for allowing laws to survive as a tax that could not have been passed as a tax.
That has good potential as a precedent, and I find it rather tricksy of him (the Chief) to get the libs on the court to go along with him.

He's right about not being able to predict the actual outcome of a decision:
I will leave the political fallout of all of this to more capable folks, but I want to add one final thought about disappointing Supreme Court decisions. When the Supreme Court ruled in Kelo v. City of New London that eminent domain could be used in just about any situation the government wished, it felt like a devastating blow to liberty. However, since that decision, nearly every state in the union passed laws aimed at curbing eminent-domain abuse, a result I certainly did not anticipate the day the ruling came down. As my former Texas senator Phil Gramm used to say, no single event is as good or as bad as it may first appear. seems the Constitution is not dead yet, which is something.

Even though I was certainly hoping for an overturn and expected one (so much for "court watchers" and what reporters say, eh?), I think in the long run we might be grateful that Obamacare wasn't simply overturned by the Court, in that it would have been bad for the public to perceive a question so fundamental to be decided by the Court. The most profound corruption of our political system to my mind is our increasing reliance on Our Robed Masters to make all the decisions for us. Politicians routinely evade tough questions by citing court rulings, and legislators don't even bother to write or pass good laws or to think very hard about their implications because we figure the courts will sort it out later (Obamacare is a poster child for this very thing).

That sort of passivity is death to liberty, and it utterly undermines the respect for the law that is required if we want to maintain peace and order. I'm quite sure Chief Roberts doesn't like Obamacare, but as he says in his decision
It is not our job to protect the people from the consequences of their political choices.
Amen to that, and may the lower courts learn from it. Whatever the limits of the specific decision, I'm not sure it's bad if the take-home message is: "Congress, do your damn job and People, be citizens."

Not having read the entire decision or the dissent, I reserve the right to change my mind after doing so and think the world has ended. But for now the Apocalypse seems forestalled. The job of overturning Obamacare was never the Court's, it was and is the citizens'.

Update: VA's next Gov, Ken Cuccinelli, agrees w/ my first impression -- on his second impression.
Update 2: Hmm. This is a more sober view, but seems like where I might end up upon further consideration.Ultimate conclusion is the same.
Update 3:
From a former Roberts clerk:
read it as constitutional politics and things get more interesting.
Not politics in the way the Washington punditry means, of course. Roberts’ opinion has nothing to do with helping or hurting President Obama’s re-election chances this fall. The truth is, Supreme Court justices are rarely interested in that sort of thing. They see themselves as above partisan allegiances and the grand questions of law they decide as more important than run-of-the-mill partisan disputes.
No, I mean politics in the constitutional sense, concerning the Supreme Court’s role in the Constitution’s structure. The danger this case held for the court from the beginning was the possibility — indeed, high likelihood — that it would draw the institution into an acute confrontation with the executive branch in the middle of an election year, and at the same time force the justices into the thick of a policy debate where they have no genuine expertise. The chief justice’s opinion can be fruitfully read as a sort of maneuver, an effort to avoid these evils while simultaneously blocking the federal government’s attempted power grab.
And from Paul Rahe, An Act of Great Cunning:
Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit was among the first to recognize that Roberts might be playing an elaborate game. He compared the decision to Marbury v. Madison, where Chief Justice John Marshall surrendered in the case before the court while firmly and eloquently reasserting the Court’s right and responsibility to engage in judicial review; and Reynolds pointed to one crucial fact: Senate rules do not allow a filibuster when the bill under consideration has to do with imposing or repealing a tax. If the Republicans take the Senate and the Presidency, they can now repeal the individual mandate. They will not need sixty votes.
Read both those whole things.