Ed Meese on Obamacare Ruling: ‘The People Will Rise Up’

By Elizabeth Harrington | June 29, 2012 | 4:23pm EDT

Former Attorney General Edwin Meese (Heritage Foundation photo)

(CNSNews.com) – Former Attorney General Ed Meese said Friday the “people will rise up” because the Supreme Court upheld the health-care law’s individual mandate as a tax, saying it will be up to them in November to decide whether they want the law, which he called “this monstrosity.”

One day removed from the ruling, Meese moderated a discussion at The Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C., involving Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott and Karen Harned, executive director of the National Federation of Independent Business's, both who were plaintiffs in the lawsuit against Obamacare.

After the event, CNSNews.com asked Meese what his initial reaction was to the decision.

“Actually it was shock,” he said. “There were a lot of outcomes that we anticipated might happen; this is one that nobody, I think, anticipated -- the idea that the Court would uphold the law on the basis that it was a tax.”

“In many ways it was unfortunate, I believe,” said Meese, who served as the 75th Attorney General of the United States under President Ronald Reagan.

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“This is a law that should have never been passed and should have been thrown out as unconstitutional for a variety of reasons,” he said. “But to create the subterfuge that what the Congress itself had said was not a tax is a tax in order to save the law, I think was very disappointing.”

CNSNews.com then asked: “And since they ruled that it is a tax, what kind of limit does the Congress have now that they could order Americans to buy something and just call—say they have the authority under their power to tax and spend?”

“Well, I think the one thing it does do it should make the Congress much more alert to what they are doing and to be sure that they can’t take something and try to disguise it as something else and then say that they’re doing it under their taxing power,” Meese said.

“I think Congress will be very alert -- particularly Republicans in the Congress -- to identify a tax as a tax because everyone knows that it is a tax that gets the attention of the American people, rather than something that’s disguised under some other false name.

“So, I think in many ways the people will rise up now that it is called a tax and this will identify it more clearly as something to give an additional reason for people to oppose it,” he added.  “Already the vast majority of the American people do in fact oppose the so-called Obamacare statute and this will give them an additional reason that it is an unfair tax on the middle class.  The President said he would never tax the middle class.”

“Unfortunately he’s done that in so many other ways, but this is now another way in which he has not lived up to what he said he would do,” Meese said.

When CNSNews.com asked Meese why Chief Justice John Roberts sided with the Left of the Court he said, “I have no idea whatsoever.”

He added: “The only thing that I will say from his opinion and that is he said it is now up to the people to decide whether they want this monstrosity -- he didn’t use ‘monstrosity’ -- but whether they want this particular law or not.

“And so, I think now that it is up to the people, it is my hope that the people will act in November to make clear their wishes in the matter.”

In the decision the Supreme Court issued Thursday, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote that the individual mandate is not justified under the Commerce Clause but could be justified under the Congress’ power to tax and spend.

“The Court today holds that our Constitution protects us from federal regulation under the Commerce Clause so long as we abstain from the regulated activity. But from its creation, the Constitution has made no such promise with respect to taxes,” he wrote in the 5-4 majority opinion.

“The Affordable Care Act's requirement that certain individuals pay a financial penalty for not obtaining health insurance may reasonably be characterized as a tax,” Roberts wrote.

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