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Criminal Justice & Legal System

Commentary: Playing by the rules


I wonder how Attorney General Bill Schuette would react if I told him, “Well, I know smoking marijuana is illegal, and I know you are against it. However, an amendment to make it legal might be  on the ballot this November. So, until we know how all that turns out, I think I will act as if the current law wasn’t there.“

You don’t have to be a  legal scholar to know that the likely outcome would be that I’d find myself  sitting in jail. But that’s exactly the kind of attitude the attorney general and some other Republicans are taking now that the U.S. Supreme Court  has decided that the health care bill is constitutional.

And to me,  that’s a disgrace. Yesterday, the nation’s highest court not only upheld the  main thrust of President Obama’s health care plan, the decision was written by  Chief Justice John Roberts, who, at least until yesterday, was seen as a hero by  conservatives.

The Patient Affordable Care Act is now the undisputed  law of the land. Soon after the decision was announced, Governor Rick Snyder behaved like a statesman and like gentlemen in politics used to be expected to  behave. He said he was disappointed by the ruling, but now it was time to deal  with reality and set up a state healthcare exchange to provide people with a way  of selecting private insurance plans, which pretty much everyone will eventually  be required to do.

The state senate passed a law creating such an  exchange earlier, but the house decided to wait, once it was known that the U.S. Supreme Court would rule on the law’s constitutionality. After yesterday’s decision, Speaker of the House Jase Bolger pretty much echoed the  governor, saying well, the result is in and it is time to get going on the  health care exchange. But Attorney General Schuette indicated he didn’t believe  in playing by the rules.

He basically said that the House should ignore the court decision in the hope that Mitt Romney would get elected in November and would then repeal what he sneeringly called “Obamacare."

To quote him exactly,“Romney said he would repeal Obamacare and with that would go the health exchange and these mandates, and so I think it would be wiser for policy  leaders in this state to wait until November.” He seems to have forgotten that Congress, not the President, would have to change the law. But in any event, he was soon joined by Gail Haines, a Republican state representative who chairs the Health Policy Committee. While she has no legal background, she  asserted that the Supreme Court decision was “based on semantics” and said she  wasn’t in any hurry to recognize “this Obamacare tax.” Which apparently means a refusal to move forward on the health exchange.

Not only is this  inappropriate. As spokesmen for the governor and the senate noted, failing  to set up a health care exchange is also stupid. Senate Republicans said they did so to prevent Washington “from imposing a
one-size-fits-all bureaucratic  scheme instead.”

Well, that seems to be what Haines and Schuette are asking for. They seem to be forgetting that the first rule of any game, or political system, is to play by the agreed-upon rules.

The only alternative is anarchy. 

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