Contrary to what right wing commentators have said, the Supreme Court’s ruling on NFIB v. Sebelius did not lessen the amount of liberty in America. I will make the case that such liberty was lost long ago in 1938.
An obscure, but highly influential Supreme Court case called Wickard v. Filburn significantly limited individual liberty via the Commerce Clause. In this case, Roscoe Filburn violated the law restricting the production of wheat for the purpose of controlling prices. Filburn argued in his defense that the excess wheat he produced was for personal consumption, therefore the excess wheat never entered the stream of commerce. The Court disagreed.
The Court reasoned that because the excess wheat was for personal consumption, Filburn’s action did affect the stream of commerce because he was not buying wheat in the open market. As a result, the market lost a buyer and that affects prices. Congress had the power to regulate personal activities that affect the market via the Commerce Clause. Because Congress can control personal activity under the Commerce Clause, Congress can control and regulate a large portion of an individual’s life, thereby reducing personal liberty greatly.
The Wickard case remained good law since its ruling. It remains good law today. Chief Justice John Roberts placed some constraints on the government’s ability to use the Commerce Clause as the basis for sweeping regulation. He argued that the federal government could not control inaction via the Commerce Clause. This is distinguished from Wickard which regulated personal action. Nevertheless, the federal government still has many tools it can use in the Constitution to assert its power. The individual mandate is valid under taxing power. It is what it is.
Life goes on. Many independents are tired of the constant bickering and ideological warfare that goes on in government. They did not elect their leaders to have them participate in the Hollywood of varsity debate clubs. They elected their leaders to solve problems. Continued turf wars over the role of government does very little to solve a health care problem in America. For many regular folks, the results are more important than the philosophical underpinnings that led to such results. Unfortunately, politicians on both sides of the aisle don’t care about results unless it validates their philosophy and allows them to win reelection.