At our Cathedral, we will be discussing the Supreme Court decision concerning the Healthcare Mandate during the Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time. The great concern of some was that, “As the Healthcare Mandate goes, so goes Social Security.” The later is a Whole Life Insurance policy, federally mandated. The swing vote in the decision was from the Roman Catholic Chief Justice John Roberts. It was not, “As the Healthcare Mandate goes, so goes Social Security.” It was, “As Social Security goes, so goes the Healthcare Mandate.” The Supreme Court generally acts upon precedent.
The applicable Supreme Court Decisions were Steward Machine Company v. Davis, (1937) and Helvering v. Davis, (1937.) The essence of these decisions was that under Article One, Section 8 of the US Constitution, Congress has the power and the obligation to promote the general welfare. In the Healthcare decision, Justice Roberts decided with the liberal justices. Agreeing with Steward Machine Company v. Davis and Helvering v. Davis, our Roman Catholic Supreme Court Chief Justice and the court ruled the mandate is in essence a tax to promote the general welfare.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, all men are created equal, endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.
St. Augustine, quoting Cicero, quoting Scipio, the famed general who defeated Carthage, “The people he defines as being not every assemblage or mob, but an assemblage associated by a common acknowledgment of law, and by a community of interests. Then he shows the use of definition in debate; and from these definitions of his own he gathers that a republic, or good of the people, then exists only when it is well and justly governed.”
Our Constitution begins, “We the people…” Our founding fathers were well versed in the classics, including the writings of Cicero, and St. Augustine. This is what they meant by a people. Our Pledge of Allegiance begins, “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of American, and to the republic…” Again, the writers were well versed in the classics. If we are going to be a republic, we must be a community of interests. We must be interested in each other, the welfare of each other.
Second, the court ruled in these prior cases that the Federal Government has the right to tax the population to fulfill its obligation to promote the General Welfare. The Federal Government can borrow from Social Security to pay its bills. Because it can, the FICA or Federal Insurance Compensation Act tax is a tax and not an insurance premium. Therefore, it is consitutional.
Our first reading from Wisdom of Solomon tells us, “God did not make death, nor does he rejoice in the destruction of the living. He fashioned all things that they might have being, and saving are all the creatures of the cosmos. Justice/Tzaddic/Charity is undying.
Greek classic thinking is very much concerned with balance. That is why St. Augustine, who quotes the classic thinkers of his time, refers to a people using an orchestra. All orchestral instruments have different pitch, timber, and volume. As a community, we come together to create the harmony/concord, we call a people. This sense of community balance is justice.
Solomon, or the writer of the Wisdom of Solomon, tells us we are to be about salvation, for others and ourselves. God creates us in his image. As we treat our neighbor, we treat God. As we fight to prevent the poorest among us from gaining access to healthcare, a living wage, dignity in the workplace, safe and healthy work environments (physically and emotionally), we fight to prevent God from having access to these things.
The Hebrew concept of Justice is different, coming from Deuteronomy 5:1-7. God rescued us with a mighty arm and an outstretched hand. In the New Testament Jesus outstretches his hand to give Therapy/healing. Because God saved us, we are obligated from the sense of gratitude to reach out our hands and save others.
The debate is not about healthcare, the presenting issue. A rule in counseling is that 90% of the time the real issue is not the presenting issue. The real issue concerns where the individual ends and society begins. We are both individuals and parts of the greater whole. We debate who we are. Are we a people or a band of merchants out to make a buck?