“There seems to be an inverse relationship between written instruments of freedom, such as a Charter, and freedom itself,” mused George Jonas. “It’s as if freedom were too fragile to be put into words: If you write down your rights and freedoms, you lose them.” That was generally the view of the Britannic part of the English-speaking world until the late 20th century: What’s unwritten is as important as, if not more so than, what is. The constitution of Australia, for example, makes no mention of the office of prime minister. The job exists only through custom and convention understood from the United Kingdom, where likewise it existed only through custom and convention: “statutory recognition” in London didn’t come till 1937 — or over two centuries after dozens of blokes had been doing the job…

He was making a narrow argument about “severability” — about whether the Court could junk the “individual mandate” but pick and choose what bits of Obamacare to keep. Yet he was unintentionally making a far more basic point: A 2,700-page law is not a “law” by any civilized understanding of the term. Law rests on the principle of equality before it. When a bill is 2,700 pages, there’s no equality: Instead, there’s a hierarchy of privilege micro-regulated by an unelected, unaccountable, unconstrained, unknown, and unnumbered bureaucracy. It’s not just that the legislators who legislate it don’t know what’s in it, nor that the citizens on the receiving end can never hope to understand it, but that even the nation’s most eminent judges acknowledge that it is beyond individual human comprehension. A 2,700-page law is, by definition, an affront to self-government.