and usually with an attempt at historical and economic context
Monday, September 7, 2009
Who Has Read the Tenth Amendment?
From a CNSNews.com story on September 4 about a town hall meeting with Senator Mark Warner (D-VA), held in Fredericksburg, VA: “Despite tough questions, Warner showed signs of being rattled only once, when he took a question from a high school government teacher. ‘Where in the Constitution, article and section, does the government have the right to run health care?’
“That question received the only standing ovation and the longest applause of the night as Warner struggled to get his answer in.
“‘You are advocating we do away with Medicare,’ he responded to the teacher. ‘There is no place in the Constitution that specifically says health care,’ he continued. ‘There is no place in the Constitution where it specifically says education. There is no place in the Constitution that talks about the right to own a telephone.’” 
The teacher had a very good question. Most politicians today seem to think that the Constitution allows anything they might want to suggest, provided they can get the votes to get it passed. I have said that the Obamacare proposal (the House bill or anything similar) is unconstitutional because it violates the Tenth Amendment of the United States Constitution: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.”
I realize it’s difficult to “think on your feet” about abstract legal issues. However, the senator’s logic is somewhat mistaken. The Constitution describes the powers of government. Mainly it describes what government’s powers are and are not, and what the rights of the people are. The fact that it doesn’t mention the right to own a telephone (or computer or automobile, for that matter) does not prohibit anyone from owning such things. The fact that it does not delegate to the federal government the right to take over and operate the nation’s health care does prohibit the federal government from doing that. As for Medicare, that is on shaky ground, not only financially, but constitutionally.
However, it is firmly in place, so doing away with it would seem politically impossible. I think. Obama proposes massive cuts in Medicare and eliminating Medicare Advantage plans. This should scare seniors quite a lot (and make them rethink their support of the AARP). And they would face being rationed out under a government health care plan, as would the seriously or chronically ill. The fact that we have Medicare does not justify expanding government health care further.
He said there is no place that specifically says education. Here’s another area that should be seen as questionable constitutionally as far as the federal government is concerned. I remember that some 45-50 years ago, the candidates for governor of Texas were talking about how we needed to resist “federal aid to education” because we would end up with federal control of education. Turns out they were prophetic. The teachers unions now control the leftist indoctrination of many students in public schools, a process continued in most colleges and universities.
It’s not difficult to get the idea that politicians do not want to think about the Constitution or the constitutionality of proposed laws. Lawmakers ought to give a lot of attention to the law of the land. At least Senator Warner assured his audience that he would read any bill before voting on it. That’s a start, I suppose.
Back to “health care reform.” The constitutional argument is just one of several major reasons to oppose Obamacare. It would be a serious drag on our economy. It would discourage people from going into medical practice. It would leave many people untreated who can readily obtain medical treatment now. There are good methods available to get health insurance coverage for the people who need it but can’t get it, without the disintegration of the current system.
I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.