[Alexander Hamilton] duly makes an appearance as the judges are warming up to denounce the individual mandate as constitutional overreach because it dragoons healthy young individuals into buying health insurance they do not want.
If Congress can do that, the dissenting justices write, “then the Commerce Clause becomes a font of unlimited power, or in Hamilton’s words, “the hideous monster whose devouring jaws … spare neither sex nor age, nor high nor low, nor sacred nor profane.”
Those are indeed the words of Alexander Hamilton, but, as they’re quoted here, it seems that he must have been warning against the ever-present tyranny of the federal government. But that was not what he was saying.
The relevant clauses of the Constitution, Hamilton wrote, had been “the source of much virulent invective and petulant declamation…” He castigated his political opponents who had criticized the powers the Constitution gave to the federal government “… in all the exaggerated colors of misrepresentation as the pernicious engines by which their local governments were to be destroyed and their liberties exterminated; as the hideous monster whose devouring jaws would spare neither sex nor age, nor high nor low, nor sacred nor profane.”
Hamilton did not decry the federal government as a constitutional Godzilla. He denounced the Anti-Federalists for their distortions and lies.
I don’t really know what to make of that. I’m not a lawyer, so maybe someone who is can help me out. It seems like the argument Ian is making is that the justices wanted to overturn the act so they turned to some dubious history. Still, shouldn’t some clerk have verified what the quote meant before it got to the opinion?