Conservative Political Commentary

[Under the Radar?] Anti-socialist, anti-communist, anti-globalist, pro-Constitution, and usually with an attempt at historical and economic context (This blog was given its name before I decided it was going to be a political blog.)

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Are the Proposed Health Insurance Mandates Constitutional?

The Democrats’ plans to require Americans to purchase health insurance or else be fined or imprisoned is one of those rare issues that gets some government officials questioning it on constitutional grounds. Most issues are not questioned if they can attract enough votes to be passed. But this one is getting some constitutionality attention.

There have been a variety of opinions offered on how this requirement can be constitutionally justified. CNS News features several articles about it, mostly with Democrats claiming that Congress can do just about anything it wants to “promote the general welfare.” This assumes that whatever they decide will do that is OK. They refuse to think that the “general welfare” clause is a statement of purpose, not a blank check.

Others cite the Congress’ responsibility to regulate interstate commerce, but requiring people to buy a certain type of product falls outside that authority.

Here are some items at CNS News [1] (in bold) reflecting the Democrat’s inability to pinpoint where this constitutional authority is specifically found, but expressing the idea that it’s there somewhere (my comments not in bold):

“Sen. Bob Casey [D-Pa.]: Health Care Mandate Constitutional, But Not Sure If There’s ‘Specific Constitutional Provision’” You might try reading the Constitution some time, Senator.

“Sen. Nelson[D-Neb.]: Constitutionally, Congress Can Probably Mandate Health Insurance in ‘Same Place’ States Can Mandate Car Insurance” Three points to consider here:
First, a person can avoid the requirement to purchase auto liability insurance by not driving. Second, The required auto liability insurance covers only people other than the insured. Third, under the Tenth Amendment, states can impose requirements that are not specifically granted to the federal government or prohibited to the states. It is this amendment that calls into serious question the constitutionality of the entire health care legislation.

“Sen. Sanders [I-Vt.]: Constitutional Authority for Congress’ Health Insurance Mandate ‘Probably’ Same as Medicare” He also mentioned Medicaid and VA medical services. Medicare is actually on questionable constitutional grounds, but by now it is entrenched to the point that it is politically unlikely to be questioned very much. Medicaid operates through the states, giving it a little better standing. VA health care can be considered part of the federal government’s authority to provide for the military. But the government takeover under Obamacare has no constitutional warrant itself, and certainly the insurance purchase mandate has none.

As Mark Levin, author of the best-selling book Liberty and Tyranny, pointed out at a Washington rally on November 5, the Democrats aren’t really much concerned with the Constitution:

Fortunately, some of our elected representatives recognize the constitutional shortcomings of the health care proposals. For instance, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) argues against the insurance mandate on constitutional grounds:

“‘Forcing every American to purchase a product is absolutely inconsistent with our Constitution and the freedoms our Founding Fathers hoped to protect,’ he said. ‘This is not at all like car insurance. You can choose not to drive but Americans will have no choice whether to buy government-approved insurance.

“‘This is nothing more than a bailout and takeover of insurance companies,’ said DeMint. ‘We’re forcing Americans to buy insurance under penalty of law and then Washington bureaucrats will then dictate what these companies can sell to Americans.

“‘This is not liberty,’ he said. ‘It is tyranny of good intentions by elites in Washington who think they can plan our lives better than we can.’” [2]

Sen. Nelson said that since he’s not a constitutional scholar, he couldn’t answer the question about the constitutionality of the mandate. [3] I say, the constitution is written in such a way that a person does not have to be a constitutional scholar to understand it. On the other hand, President Barack Obama is supposed to be a constitutional scholar and he doesn’t seem to understand it very well.

[1] CNS, Politics news stories headlines, 12/26/09 at

[2] Chris Neefus, “Sen. Nelson: Constitutionally, Congress Can 'Probably' Mandate Health Insurance In ‘Same Place’ States Can Mandate Car Insurance,” 12/24/2009,
CNS, at

[3] Ibid.


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