Health Care Hangover

In a breathtaking recognition of Constitutional principles, Federal Judge Roger Vinson has ruled that the healthcare reform law is unconstitutional.  Hallelujah.

Judge Vinson appears to have gotten to the heart of the matter–that the Commerce Clause does not include the authority to force people to buy something they neither want nor need.  If that were true, Congress could force anyone to buy anything for any reason.

I can understand, though I strongly disagree with, those who support government involvement in health care.  I cannot understand someone who thinks our government has limitless power to coerce its citizens to give up their rights under the guise of regulating economic activity.

Economic transactions are part and parcel of virtually every human action.  To give a government the power to dictate without limit things economic amounts to the nullification of all rights.  Were printing presses, for example, argued to be part of interstate commerce, the government could regulate speech by shutting down the presses while claiming it was not really taking away a Constitutional right.  It is hard to imagine even a die-hard leftist supporting such a bizarre interpretation.

Even if one were to make the case that this law was a good idea, the method by which the Democrats instituted it was a craven attempt to expand the power of the governing elite–consensus be damned.  In this case, the Constitution is working–so far.  Hopefully the Supreme Court will see fit to recognize that the Commerce Clause does not declare open season on our rights.


Addendum: Vinson’s ruling did not include an injunction as such, meaning that he did not formally bar the government from proceeding with the implementation of the law.  He did, however, note that an injunction was not necessary because the declaratory judgment amounts to the same thing in this context.  In other words, he is saying that no administration would knowingly flout the judgment of a Federal Court.

This puts Democrats in a bit of a pickle.  They cannot ask for a stay of the injunction because there is none.  If they march ahead with implementation, they are effectively thumbing their collective noses at the Court.  If Obama gets the Democratic nomination in 2012, he will have to explain why a Federal ruling does not apply to him and his political cronies in Congress.

I can’t wait for that one.

About Terry Noel

I am an Associate Professor of Management and Quantitative Methods at Illinois State University. My specialty is entrepreneurship.
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1 Response to Health Care Hangover

  1. madboy says:

    1.) The Constitution grants authority to legislate only in the areas mentioned in the document itself. All else is left to states under the 10th Amendment.
    2.) However, if enumerated power does exist, the 10th Amendment objection disappears and the federal government is specifically empowered to address matters that have significant spillover effects (state lines, international borders).
    3.) The PPACA clearly addresses activities that cross state lines.
    4.) Thus, its constitutionality.

    Ultimately constitutional or not, we can’t afford the status quo.


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