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View Full Version : Healthcare reform....unconstitutional?



TXduckdog
09-18-2009, 08:38 AM
Interesting scenario....here's the link fopr the full article.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204518504574416623109362480.html?m od=djemEditorialPage

A few excerpts:

The mandate's real justifications are far more cynical and political. Making healthy young adults pay billions of dollars in premiums into the national health-care market is the only way to fund universal coverage without raising substantial new taxes. In effect, this mandate would be one more giant, cross-generational subsidy—imposed on generations who are already stuck with the bill for the federal government's prior spending sprees.

The elephant in the room is the Constitution. As every civics class once taught, the federal government is a government of limited, enumerated powers, with the states retaining broad regulatory authority.

Congress, in other words, cannot regulate simply because it sees a problem to be fixed. Federal law must be grounded in one of the specific grants of authority found in the Constitution.

These are mostly found in Article I, Section 8, which among other things gives Congress the power to tax, borrow and spend money, raise and support armies, declare war, establish post offices and regulate commerce. It is the authority to regulate foreign and interstate commerce that—in one way or another—supports most of the elaborate federal regulatory system.

The Supreme Court construes the commerce power broadly. In the most recent Commerce Clause case, Gonzales v. Raich (2005) , the court ruled that Congress can even regulate the cultivation of marijuana for personal use so long as there is a rational basis to believe that such "activities, taken in the aggregate, substantially affect interstate commerce."

But there are important limits. In United States v. Lopez (1995), for example, the Court invalidated the Gun Free School Zones Act because that law made it a crime simply to possess a gun near a school. It did not "regulate any economic activity and did not contain any requirement that the possession of a gun have any connection to past interstate activity or a predictable impact on future commercial activity." Of course, a health-care mandate would not regulate any "activity," such as employment or growing pot in the bathroom, at all. Simply being an American would trigger it.

have framed the mandate as a "tax" rather than a regulation. Under Sen. Max Baucus's (D., Mont.) most recent plan, people who do not maintain health insurance for themselves and their families would be forced to pay an "excise tax" of up to $1,500 per year—roughly comparable to the cost of insurance coverage under the new plan.

But Congress cannot so simply avoid the constitutional limits on its power. Taxation can favor one industry or course of action over another, but a "tax" that falls exclusively on anyone who is uninsured is a penalty beyond Congress's authority.

However, a tax that is so clearly a penalty for failing to comply with requirements otherwise beyond Congress's constitutional power will present the question whether there are any limits on Congress's power to regulate individual Americans. The Supreme Court has never accepted such a proposition, and it is unlikely to accept it now, even in an area as important as health care.

zeus3925
09-18-2009, 08:45 AM
Interesting argument. I am sure if any form of health care is passed, there will be a judicial challenge.

ducknwork
09-18-2009, 09:05 AM
Very interesting. There may still be hope yet...
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