Many of us have a lot riding on how the Supreme Court will rule on the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as "Obamacare." We’ve argued with our friends and foes on its constitutionality, whether it will accomplish its goals, and how imperfect it all really is anyway. The very many non-lawyers among us have sought to become experts on the Commerce Clause, stare decisis, judicial review, and lots of other fairly obscure legal notions that are supposed to inform the justices’ decision. We’ve spent hours on Facebook, the SCOTUS Blog, and these very webpages, arguing about ideas that we know only vaguely but prove our preconceived points flawlessly.
And yet none of it ever mattered toward the justices’ final decision.
Not a single brilliant comment about natural rights on a rival’s Facebook post or a persuasive conversation that convinced a friend that the individual mandate would lower everyone’s health insurance premiums.
None of it.
Despite the decision being out of our control completely, we have prepared ourselves for disappointment and even anger toward those whose side prevails.
What sense does that make?
Certainly, we should care whether the court upholds the legislation, strikes down the mandate only, or rules it all unconstitutional. We should be interested in the court’s reasoning and what it heralds for the type of government we can expect in the future.
But we should not become upset about what is just about to happen. We should not become too joyful, either. If Obamacare survives the judicial gauntlet, it has much more to do before it can be deemed a success. If it falls, the public will demand something new to address the problems with health care.
Presented with these looming possibilities, remember one thing about the Supreme Court and government generally: government is a handful of people far away empowered to make decisions that bind us all by their own little prejudices. They don’t know you, and they don’t know what’s best for you. When we entrust them to represent the common good, the best we should expect is their educated guesses.
Tomorrow’s decision will be a guess, but a powerful one. It will certainly count for more than yours or mine, and will either be the beginning or the ending of an era in American government.
Despite its importance and how much you may disagree with it, don’t let the court’s decision upset you. You had nothing to do with it. Instead, let it inspire you to become an even better advocate for ethics, justice, and freedom in places where you can actually make a difference now and in the future.