Boots & Sabers

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0742, 30 Jun 15

The rise and fall of the Supreme Court

My column for the West Bend Daily News is online. Here it is:

The Supreme Court issued a series of bad rulings last week that indicate this court has lurched from being an austere arbiter of the law to a highly partisan legislative body. Unfortunately for the American people, it is a legislative body that consists of members appointed for life and not accountable to the people. In no case did the Supreme Court belittle itself more than in the case of King v. Burwell — the case about the Obamacare subsidies.

This was a case that was about the plain reading of the English language. The Obamacare law gave each state the ability to create a health care exchange, but if a state chose not to do so, the federal government would create one. The Obamacare law also clearly states in several places that the federal government would provide a means-tested subsidy for participants in the state Obamacare exchanges, but only for participants in the state exchanges. The law specifically excludes giving a subsidy to participants in the federal exchange.

The purpose for the law’s language on subsidies was obvious and clearly stated by advocates of the law in the press and in official Congressional debates. The advocates of Obamacare wanted the states to create the Obamacare exchanges so that the states, and not the federal government, would bear the brunt of the cost of Obamacare. In this way, Obamacare could be sold to the public without having to disclose its actual, and enormous, cost to the taxpayers. The subsidies were used as a political cudgel to incent the states to create Obamacare exchanges under the calculation that no state would dare to turn down “free” subsidies to their citizens.

The law did not play out the way the Obamacare advocates planned. Many states, including Wisconsin, wisely saw through the game they were playing and refused to create a state exchange. This left President Barack Obama a political disaster with the prospect of millions of Americans being forced into the federal Obamacare exchange without a subsidy. So, Obama and team did what they have always done: They ignored their own law and issued subsidies to participants in the federal exchange anyway.

This is what King v. Burwell was about. Does Obamacare say what it actually says — that the subsidies only apply to participants in the state exchanges and not those in the federal exchange? The Supreme Court ignored the plain language of the law, the context in which it was written and the purposeful intent for why it was written. Instead, the court ruled that the law means whatever Obama and team want it to mean. The Supreme Court has officially sanctioned arbitrary rule.

Chief Justice John Roberts admits as much in the majority opinion. He writes, “If the statutory language is plain, we must enforce it according to its terms. But oftentimes the meaning — or ambiguity — of certain words or phrases may only become evident when placed in context.” Brown & Williamson, 529 U.S., at 132. So when deciding whether the language is plain, we must read the words “in their context and with a view to their place in the overall statutory scheme.”

In other words, it does not matter to Roberts what the actual words mean. He and his fellow legislators in black robes will give the words whatever definitions they choose irrespective of the clear meaning of words in the English language.

As usually happens, Justice Antonin Scalia perfectly eviscerates the majority’s bad decision in his dissent. He says, “… the cases will publish forever the discouraging truth that the Supreme Court of the United States favors some laws over others, and is prepared to do whatever it takes to uphold and assist its favorites. I dissent.”

As do I.

Owen Robinson is a West Bend resident. Reach him at


0742, 30 June 2015


  1. west bend observer

    Did we lose JU? I miss the constant bickering between JU and KS.

  2. Owen

    He switched to Fairs Fare after someone hijacked his screen name.

  3. Kevin Scheunemann

    I can’t believe the Supreme court can get lower than the Dred Scott decision, but its managed it in the last 2 weeks of judicial farce.

    Wiping out the first amendment by prohibiting the free exercise of religion when it comes to gay marriage was the worst of the bunch.

  4. Pat


    How does the ruling prohibit your free free exercise of religion under the first amendment?

  5. Paul

    I was most surprised in the Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission decision yesterday. A number of pundits felt that the Legislature would have prevailed in that case.

  6. Kevin Scheunemann


    The word free “exercise” was left out of the majority opinion (as pointed out in dissent).

    So churches that refuse to gay marry, or recognize gay marriage, or disallow gay members, will now be the targets. (Liberals will probably only go after Christian churches with their intolerance because liberals will be too wimpy to go after Mosques.)

    Majority said the churches could teach and express an opinion that marriage under God’s design, one man, one woman, is fine, but can they exercise that opinion?

    Did you see story of guy where Walmart refused to do a Dukes of Hazzard cake, but then did an ISIS flag cake when he asked? This gay marriage ruling will turn into the same liberal sillyness.

  7. Pat


    Maybe the ruling will turn into silliness, but I think it will come from conservatives as well as liberals if it does.

  8. Kevin Scheunemann


    The liberal sillyness far outweighs anything conservatives could possibly dream up. The perpetually aggrieved on the liberal side constantly looks to beat down and sensor any diverse speech.

    Although, I will give you the sillyness of conservatives acting like liberals on this confederate flag issue…

  9. Pat

    Does your church allow unmarried couples, who are living together to become members in your church?
    And, does your church allow gay married couples to become members of your church?

  10. Kevin Scheunemann





    If one rejects the gospel by openly sinning, it would be a sin for belivers with saving faith in Christ to bring them into fellowship and communion with the church, where Christ is the foundation and cornorstone. Matthew 18 discipline would happen before the membership process would progress. We, as belivers in Christ, would desire an amend of the open sin in action and confessing by repentance in such a situation.

    If one is an exisitng member and a fellow Christian discovers you are living together without being married, Matthew 18 is done. It can take a year or more to cycle through the Matthew 18 discipline before it rises to level of excommunication. In my experience visiting on this issue 3 out of 4 couples recognize the sin and do get married. This same process goes for visiting members who neglect staying in the word and sacrament, or are openly living contrary to the gospel in some other manner. (In other words, visits of Christian concern and love go far beyond living together, or unacceptable sexual behavior…those issues only make up a small number of the reasons for those wandering from the faith.)

  11. Mark Maley

    The concern was about spousal benefits
    And other civil issues.

    You can continue to not wed gays , or divorcee’s or left handed lepers if your church
    So chooses .

    faux concern about religious liberty is a smokescreen for having lost the country on the issue.

    The right lost a vote from the last Obamacare decision ( Kennedy )
    And now , just like in baseball , they whine about the umpire when they lose. .(Robert’s)

    Cheer up gents . You still will get to pollute
    Like the old days
    Bet your thought SCOTUS was spot on with that decision
    ( and Scalia didn’t have to throw a clot
    Like he did on gay marriage and healthcare )

  12. Fairs Fare

    I believe there should be accountability in all relationships involving children. If “LGBT” couples can have children then both “parents” should be legally responsible for the raising of those children. Far to often, if an LGBT relationship doesn’t work out, its convenient for one parent to walk away leaving the other left holding all parental responsibility. Now, LBGT couples with children who choose to marry at least have a legally binding contract and enforceable obligation to those children brought into the relationship. We have enough single parent trouble in this country. For me these marriage contracts represent and hold LGBT couples responsible to each other and all other aspects of marriage (mortgages,bills,children etc.). If you don’t want to marry LGBTs in your church…don’t. Some people may get married in a church but all people get divorced in a court of law. A court of law that holds people accountable… now even LGBT. A special hello to “west bend observer” from JU. Was that your dirty B.S.

  13. Pat

    Sounds like your WELS church is exercising it’s first amendment rights. I highly doubt that any homosexual couples will attempt to join your church.

  14. Kevin Scheunemann


    Don’t be so sure. Liberals never take no for an answer, no matter how obnoxious and offensive their behavior is.

    Christians are not allowed to offend anyone, but liberals can offend with all kinds of unacceptable behavior.

    Don’t you get the political correctness memos?

  15. west bend observer

    JU or FF, you would accuse me of using your name? Sorry pal I have higher standards than that. I am here mainly to observe and I actually occasionally agree with you, I have no clue who you are and no
    reason to use your name.

  16. Pat


    Still, your church is free to exercise it’s first amendment rights, so the Supreme Court didn’t wipe out the first amendment by prohibiting the free exercise of religion.

  17. Kevin Scheunemann


    Want to bet?

    I’d be willing to ride my entire net worth on that bet.

    ….because liberals already do war on free exercise of religion,

    Liberalism has already mastered destroying free exercise of religion, the issue we talk about in this discussion is only the next step in their war.

  18. Pat


    Let me know when your church is forced to admit into it, and perform a marriage ceremony for homosexuals.

  19. Kevin Scheunemann


    There was a guy on my Kewaskum DQ Facebook page that posted nearly the same proximity in time the identity theft posts happened on this blog. The profane language toward me sounded just like the same profane language directed at me in the posts that hijacked your name. I posted a Christian response asking to point out the issue under Matthew 18, to discuss it, and if needed for me to take corrective action, a few hours later, (rather than taking my suggested Matthew 18 course to approach me with their specific issue) they promptly deleted their post, along with my response.

    If you email me, I’d be willing to relay the name…its just a hunch, in case you want to investigate it further.

  20. Pat

    The difference I have noticed is that most religious liberals seem to think that their religious views are fine for THEM to live by. Religous conservatives seem to think that their religious views are fine for EVERYONE to live by.

  21. Fairs Fare

    Me and you have our debates and I have even been frustrated at times. However, that persons threats and language crossed a line. As a man I am willing to stand with you in any effort to make sure threats of that nature are punished. If Owen would be willing maybe you could relay the information to him and he could forward it to me. Also, Mark was threatened he might also be interested. My screen name was only hijacked not a crime but threats of arson and murder are concerning and criminal. Not protected by free speech.

  22. Kevin Scheunemann

    Pat said,

    “The difference I have noticed is that most religious liberals seem to think that their religious views are fine for THEM to live by. Religous conservatives seem to think that their religious views are fine for EVERYONE to live by.”

    This is the difference between God’s design, and man’s distorted view of God’s design.

    Religious liberals need to delete whole sections of the bible to justify things like abortion, marriage other than God’s design, one man, one woman, or embracing evolution. Once you start deleting whole sections of the bible, their actions start to bring their Christianity into question. you cannot delete certain sections of the gospel, and claim you cling to it.

    I know. I know. I’ll get letters.

  23. Pat


    But what if one’s religion isn’t based on the bible. Doesn’t the first amendment provide them with the right to exercise their religion? And, what if they feel they are as right about their religious beliefs as you are? Who plays God and chooses who’s right and who’s wrong then?

  24. Pat

    And what if a person is an atheist and a conservative?

  25. Kevin Scheunemann


    My comment is steered to thoses that don’t base their religion on the bible, but call themsleves “Christian”.

    Non-Christians are practicing and exercising their religion all over the place, freely…evolution and global warming disciples are preaching everywhere…I only ask Christians get to preach as in many places as the liberal disciples in the warming and evolution cults.

    Is it a problem for conservatives to be atheist? Not in my opinion. Conservatives don’t stomp on free speech and free exercise of religion like liberals do.

  26. Pat


    I know where I can go and worship if I belong to your religion, but I’ve never heard of a church that I would be able to attend to worship your so called global warming evolution religion.

    Me thinks you make a stretch of things with hyperbole. No one is stopping you from going to your church and participating in your religion as you wish.

  27. Kevin Scheunemann

    Evolution worship and global warming worship?

    Public Schools.

    Democrat political meetings.

    Just about any “climate change” meeting/conference.

    The Hymns are usually uninspiring and the sermon is usually substitute for fear mongering on some fake doomsday scenario of the month, but the evolution and global warming worship centers permeate everywhere, especially in government.

  28. Pat

    Again, no one is stopping you from practicing your religion.
    You can stand on a street corner if you’d like and preach up a storm.
    You can take out all the radio, tv, and paper advertisements you like and say all the ridiculous things you want. You are on blogs spouting your nonsense. No one is stopping you. I encourage you.

  29. Pat

    And, what you list are only religions in your mind. How do I know? Because you are the only person who says so.

  30. Kevin Scheunemann


    Did you read report on hostility toward religion?

    You can’t preach certain religions on street corner, public schools, etc. heck, Jade will not let me even where anything to Village Board that does not pass a religious screening test!

  31. west bend observer

    FF, as a man then you should also stand up and appologize for improperly accusing me of hijacking your name.

  32. Pat


    Public school is not a place to be preaching religious beliefs. Now I know you’re going to say your nonsense about global warming / evolution / anything you may not like, religion is being preached in public schools, but all of those are not religions. Because you attempt to twist words to match what you want doesn’t make you right, it makes you sound irrational.

  33. Mark Maley

    I blew off the murder statement as a joking response to my talking about a great progressive week.
    I didn’t put it in the context that you and Kevin are discussing above.
    I saw it was deleted later .

    This blog is too much fun to be afraid of yahoo’s with nothing else to do but steal screen names .

    Neither you or Kevin deserve that harassment .


  34. west bend observer

    Nor do I deserve to be accused when I have never used profanity or threatened anyone on here.

  35. Fairs Fare

    west bend observer,
    I apologize! I wasn’t accusing just asking. You have always been respectful and your posts are always well thought out. I believed someone was just trying to get my goat and when I saw the “emoji” I thought… Well I shouldn’t have thought. You have never given any basis for me to even ask if that was your B.S. I do sincerely apologize and I will show more respect. Even to Kevin. Again, I am sorry.

  36. Mark Maley

    Agree WBO

  37. Fairs Fare

    I should be the one complaining but I’m not. It was “my” screen name that was used to insult and threaten after being hijacked. However, I believe the hijacker chose my screen name because of the back and forth and sometimes heated debates Kevin and I have. Profanity is slang but used by all. Even Kevin admits the occasional use of profanity. Mark Twain said “Under certain circumstances, profanity provides a relief denied even to prayer”. Furthermore, isn’t my use of profanity protected under the First Amendment or is that another double standard? I have been repeatedly insulted and called names. I’m not complaining about that either. Get off your high horses!

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