By JAY BERGMAN
Publication: The Day
There is now considerable evidence, reported by Jan Crawford on "Face the Nation" last Sunday, and by others as well, that Chief Justice John Roberts changed his opinion in the Obamacare decision because he feared the court would be damaged - the way it supposedly was after Bush v. Gore in 2000 - if it declared Obamacare, the chief legislative initiative of the president, to be unconstitutional.
If this were the case, then the chief justice should resign. He is not a public relations director; it is his job to evaluate cases on the basis of their legality and constitutionality. The Founding Fathers deliberately insulated the courts from external pressure - in the case of the Supreme Court by prescribing lifetime tenure - so that they could, if necessary, ignore the public's wishes.
The Founding Fathers, however, did not consider the possibility that judges and justices might care so much about what the public thought that they would ignore their obligations and tailor their rulings to what was politically and personally expedient. In short, they did not consider the possibility that judges would lack the courage and integrity to do the right thing.
Nor did they consider that judges and justices might pervert the clear meaning of the English language, as Justice Roberts has done by calling a tax what is manifestly a penalty or a fine. The meaning of these words is clear: A tax is levied to generate revenue necessary for the state to carry out its obligations; a fine or penalty is punishment for unlawful conduct.
Applied to other aspects of our lives, such as sports, Roberts' exercise in Orwellian Newspeak would require changing the language we use to describe them: The penalty box in hockey would be the tax box, roughing the kicker in football would be a 15-yard tax, and so on.
George Orwell could have had the chief justice in mind when he commented famously that some ideas are so ridiculous only intellectuals could think of them.
But what the chief justice and his four liberal colleagues on the court have sanctioned by their decision should not be trivialized. The cost Obamacare will exact is not only economic, however destructive of our economy and financial stability even higher deficits will be.
Obamacare will cause people to die. By increasing the number of persons with health insurance without at the same time increasing the number of doctors, health care will be rationed. As a result, people with undiagnosed colon cancer - to take just one example - will die of the disease because the waiting list for colonoscopies will be too long.
The American people should know the consequences of Obamacare, and consider that carefully when deciding whom to vote for this November.
Jay Bergman is professor of history at Central Connecticut State University and the author, most recently, of "Meeting the Demands of Reason: The Life and Thought of Andrei Sakharov."