Friday, February 19, 2010

Is the Obamacare bill even constitutional?

One of the things that is scary about the health care debate is that, while we discuss it from utilitarian (bad) and philosophical (worse) points of view, there's no discussion amongst our representatives whatsoever about whether their proposals are constitutional. Which they are almost certainly not.
Many commentators, for example, doubt the constitutionality of the plan’s “individual mandate,” which would require individuals to purchase health insurance if they do not have it. Such an unprecedented requirement likely exceeds the limited and enumerated powers delegated to Congress under the Constitution. Congress can exercise only those powers that the Constitution expressly delegates to it, and it doubtful that Congress has the authority to require individuals to purchase goods or services. While proponents of the legislation point to the congressional power to regulate interstate commerce, it is difficult to see how requiring individuals to purchase health insurance when they are currently not doing so constitutes regulation of interstate commerce.

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If individuals have a constitutional right to reject treatment, surely they have the right to reject paying significant sums for insurance. The government could not, for example, force citizens to subscribe to National Review or The Nation. Such a law would plainly violate the right to free speech under the First Amendment. Just as individuals have a right to speak freely themselves and to choose the newspapers or magazines they read, so too they have a right to be free from laws that would require them to purchase materials with which they disagree.
Of course, there's a lot of legislation passed in Washington which wouldn't pass if our elected representatives actuall followed the Constitution. This is just one more piece...

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