I am beaming today with something that is easy to lose sight of miles away from home – good ol’ American patriotism.

The U.S. Supreme Court (largely) upheld the Affordable Care Act.  For the first time since law school, I’m relishing digging into the 193 page opinion… the Court’s reasoned analysis of a key cornerstone of our legal system–the Commerce Clause; the power of the Federal  government to raise monies (tax); the surprise majority (Roberts) and dissenting (Kennedy) opinions. This case has the potential to be a great constitutional law case studied by U.S. law students in the decades to come.

Legislation passed by a majority of our democratically elected legislative body should never be overturned by the Supreme Court lightly.  But there was a lot of speculation, and more than a mere possibility, that this case would be decided on political and not legal grounds.  Whatever your personal political views may be on the appropriate balance of private capitalism versus governmental programs vis a vis the U.S. healthcare debate, this lawyer thinks the court made the right legal decision. The power to tax is clearly within the constitutional rights of the federal government, and the Affordable Care Act (for its many benefits and failings) fits squarely within the Congress’ power to legislate in a space where the private mechanism of capitalism has fallen short and we, as citizens, need for the government step in.  In the midst of enormous political pressure, the SCOTUS avoided that pressure to make policy and deferred to the legislative body’s constitutional function. 

So that’s why I’m beaming with patriotism today.  Because in my view, it’s ultimately not whether your politics rule the day, its whether a functioning democracy and system of legal checks and balances exists and continues to flourish.  (‘Course, like any good Washingtonian, I like it when the outcome also reflects my political philosophy, but that is mere icing on the cake.) 

Oh and, FINALLY, Obama has done what he should have done 2 years ago:  explain the health care legislation in a clear and concise way.