by Chuckie Corra, Tue Mar 23, 2010 at 03:05:52 PM EDT
Much fuss has been stirred up in the aftermath of the healthcare reform vote, and even before the vote, over the constitutionality of an individual mandate to get coverage. Republicans and conservatives have taken aim at this provision and set their sites on bringing down healthcare because of it. Many believe that the government "forcing" people to buy healthcare coverage is unconstitutional. I am not a big fan of the mandate, but I understand the rationale that went along with it when it was decided upon to be included in the bill. Constitutionality determinations are best left to the professionals themselves who study Constitutional law. An interesting Politico story opened my eyes to the whole situation.
Erwin Chemerinsky specializes in American Constitutional Law and has boosted himself right into the healthcare debate that now ensues. His recent Politico piece will have some thinking a little harder about Constitutionality.
Those opposing health care reform are increasingly relying on an argument that has no legal merit: that the health care reform legislation would be unconstitutional. There is, of course, much to debate about how to best reform America’s health care system. But there is no doubt that bills passed by House and Senate committees are constitutional.
I'm much more inclined to believe someone who studies Constitutional Law at Harvard than a yahoo toting a gun and screaming socialism at the top of their lungs, but lets read on and see just what Chemerinsky means by this.
Congress clearly could do this under its power pursuant to Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution to regulate commerce among the states. The Supreme Court has held that this includes authority to regulate activities that have a substantial effect on interstate commerce. In the area of economic activities, “substantial effect” can be found based on the cumulative impact of the activity across the country. For example, a few years ago, the Supreme Court held that Congress could use its commerce clause authority to prohibit individuals from cultivating and possessing small amounts of marijuana for personal medicinal use because marijuana is bought and sold in interstate commerce.
He cites Article I section 8 of the Constitution, and more specifically Clause 1 stating that: "The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States"
The gray area (gray? grey?) is where does laying/collecting taxation etc. stand in regards to our current bill? The mandate must stay within the lines of taxation and spending powers that the government has. According to Chemerinsky, the "mandate" does just that.
Just some food for thought.
For the article in its entirety, check out this link