The Supreme Court and Health Care


Saturday, 07 July 2012

From Today’s Wall Street Journal

Regarding John Yoo’s “Chief Justice Roberts and His Apologists” (op-ed, June 30): Mr. Yoo’s characterization of Chief Justice John Roberts as another Charles Evans Hughes is a compliment. Hughes never sought to bar “expansion of the welfare state.” He designed systems of state insurance and public utility regulation which endure. He resisted the expulsion of Socialists from the New York legislature. His opposition and that of Justice Louis Brandeis are what killed President Roosevelt’s court-packing plan, which was far from dead on arrival. He viewed the Supreme Court as the protector of the political process, which implied some respect for the results of the 1936 election. His later opinions laid the foundation of modern doctrines relating to freedom of speech, religion and racial desegregation. Nor did the Roosevelt appointees “uph[o]ld expansions of federal power.” They certainly did not do so in Erie Railroad v. TompkinsScrews v. U.S., and Youngstown v. Sawyer.

Some still find attractive Hughes’s comments at the 1932 Fourth Circuit Judicial Conference: “There is no lack of schemes for the regeneration of society, schemes not infrequently of a sort which would not be needed by a society capable of freely adopting them. The construction of a theoretical paradise is the easiest of human efforts. The familiar method is to establish the perfect or almost perfect state, and then to fashion human beings to fit it. This is a far lighter undertaking than the necessary and unspectacular task, taking human nature as it is and is likely to remain, of contriving improvements that are workable.”

George W. Liebmann



Posted in: Health Care, Judiciary and Legal Issues

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