Almost 75 years ago, another Justice Roberts supposedly switched his vote on minimum wage laws in Parrish, overturning a previous SCOTUS decision and rendering them constitutional. Not only did this signal a shift that would continue in future New Deal decisions (though maybe Congress just got better at writing constitutional laws), it also stopped FDR’s court-packing plan in its tracks.
While rumblings of a plan to pack the Court were today, if anywhere, in the political extremes, Chief Justice John Roberts’ decision to uphold the PPACA under Congress’ taxing power certainly came as a shock to most SCOTUS fans; especially after Citizens United. Many on the left were feeling that the Court was losing its institutional credibility (though that’s always the argument of the minority party in the Court).
However, the individual mandate/tax was upheld, and the PPACA is now officially constitutional AND the law of the land.
So what’s that mean for you, (prospective) law students?
Honestly, very little (unless you buy into the argument that it’s going to destroy the country, in which case, I have a bunker to sell you).
You can now stay on your parents’ health insurance plan until you’re 26. That’s nice, but most law schools offer their own health plan, so this isn’t a boon to you.
The biggest change in your life is going to be the fact that you’ll have to study the ruling during law school. The history of the SCOTUS and the Commerce Clause is a long and storied one; it now has a new wrinkle to it. So if you haven’t read the decision already, you will.
Be happy that Roberts supposedly wrote both the opinion and the dissent, however, as he’s one of the better writers the Court has seen. Be saddened that Ginsburg wrote the dissent, as she is not.
And if the thought of slogging through the entire document is one that sends a shiver up your spine, you might want to reconsider law school. A momentous opinion that’s well-written and argued (in my opinion, at least; the paragraph where Roberts slaps Ginsburg, textually, is brilliant) is one you should be looking forward to in law school. If you can’t get yourself to read this opinion, you’ll never make it through Erie.