Terry Jeffrey

Are you required to stop your car at a red light?

In his opinion declaring Obamacare's individual mandate constitutional, Chief Justice John Roberts constructed an absurd doctrine of legal interpretation that, if consistently applied, would hold you are not.

The Roberts Doctrine of Lawlessness can be summarized as follows: You need not stop at a red light as long as you can afford to pay the penalty for running it. Red lights merely give motorists a "choice" of whether to stop or keep moving and pay the fine the government imposes for not stopping.

Let's see how our chief justice applied his doctrine to Obamacare:

Plaintiffs challenged Section 5000A, the mandate that individuals buy health insurance. It is titled, "Requirement to Maintain Minimum Essential Coverage."

It says: "An applicable individual shall for each month beginning after 2013 ensure that the individual, and any dependent of the individual who is an applicable individual, is covered under minimum essential coverage for such month."

It goes on to say: "If an applicable individual fails to meet the requirement ... there is hereby imposed a penalty with respect to the individual in the amount determined under subsection (c)."

Congress used three key words here: "requirement," "shall" and "penalty."

Merriam-Webster says a "requirement" is "something required." The same dictionary says "shall" is "used in laws, regulations, or directives to express what is mandatory." It further says a "penalty" is "the suffering in person, rights, or property that is annexed by law or judicial decision to the commission of a crime or public offense."

Given the plain meaning of the words Congress used in Obamacare's "Requirement to Maintain Minimum Essential Coverage," a reasonable person would conclude it "requires" that they "shall" maintain "minimum essential coverage" for health insurance. To make sure they fulfill this "requirement," it threatens them with a "penalty" in the form of a fine paid to the government.

Terry Jeffrey

Terence P. Jeffrey is the editor-in-chief of CNSNews

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