April 6, 2012

This being a law column I’d be remiss if I didn’t say something about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act a/k/a Obamacare. If you read this column you’ve probably been following the Supreme Court arguments and are awaiting their decision. Here’s my guess: They decided this case months ago.

The members of the Court had read thousands of pages of briefs before oral arguments. They weren’t waiting for someone to argue the case to arrive at their decision. Their clerks have had rough drafts of the various opinions written for weeks. The rest is for show.

As for the bill itself, here’s some numbers to think about: The Bible is approximately 1274 pages long. The Quran is in 5 volumes and is about 2,500 pages long. The United States Tax Code is 3,458 pages and when combined with the Regulations is 9,471 pages. The Obamacare law is 2409 pages long. So long, and so complicated that Speaker Nancy Pelosi uttered those famous words, “We have to pass this bill to find out what’s in it.” And that’s before the boards, committees, and commissions start generating thousands of regulations that will be necessary for the government to take over the health care industry.

During arguments before the Supreme Court and faced with the prospect of reading the Obamacare bill, Justice Scalia said; “What happened to the 8th Amendment [prohibiting Cruel and unusual punishment]? You really want us to go through 2700 pages.?” The obvious answer, as measured by the laughter in the courtroom, was that nobody was going to read, or attempt to read, this beaurocratic behemoth.

James Madison wrote in the Federalist Papers: “It will be of little avail to the people that the laws are made by men of their own choice, if the laws be so voluminous that they can not be read, or so incoherent that they can not be understood; if they be repealed or revised before they are promulgated, or undergo such incessant changes that no man who knows what the law is today can guess what it will be tomorrow.”

I couldn’t put it better myself.

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