Vinson has this just about perfect, but I can already hear the howls of displeasure welling up from the bowels of the mainstream media and the left tomorrow, in which they will make much hay out of Vinson's reference to the original tea party (and, by implication, to the current Tea Party), and the fact that he was appointed by Ronald Reagan, and the fact that he went to the Naval Academy and Vanderbilt Law School and was born in Kentucky. He'll be dismissed as a right-wing extremist and a Southerner and some may even snigger that he didn't go to Harvard or Yale. That's what the Left does when it has lost an argument.
It would be a radical departure from existing case law to hold that Congress can regulate inactivity under the Commerce Clause. If it has the power to compel an otherwise passive individual into a commercial transaction with a third party merely by asserting --- as was done in the Act --- that compelling the actual transaction is itself “commercial and economic in nature, and substantially affects interstate commerce” [see Act § 1501(a)(1)], it is not hyperbolizing to suggest that Congress could do almost anything it wanted. It is difficult to imagine that a nation which began, at least in part, as the result of opposition to a British mandate giving the East India Company a monopoly and imposing a nominal tax on all tea sold in America would have set out to create a government with the power to force people to buy tea in the first place. If Congress can penalize a passive individual for failing to engage in commerce, the enumeration of powers in the Constitution would have been in vain for it would be “difficult to perceive any limitation on federal power” [Lopez, supra, 514 U.S. at 564], and we would have a Constitution in name only. Surely this is not what the Founding Fathers could have intended. See id. at 592 (quoting Hamilton at the New York Convention that there would be just cause to reject the Constitution if it would allow the federal government to “penetrate the recesses of domestic life, and control, in all respects, the private conduct of individuals”) (Thomas, J., concurring).
The decision will no doubt be stayed pending appeal, and the appeal process is going to be a long one, perhaps lasting into the term of the next President, but this is a great day for freedom nevertheless. Hence.... "boo yeah!"