The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, is in on life support. The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in late March, largely centered on the individual mandate. That’s the provision that would force Americans to buy health insurance. Government attorneys claimed such federal government power is within the scope of the Commerce Clause of the Constitution because millions of people choosing not to buy health insurance affects interstate commerce. The Supreme Court won’t buy that argument and President Obama knows it.
With his signature legislation in jeopardy, President Obama fired a cannon shot across the bow of the Supreme Court in a news conference on April 2. He declared that an “unelected group of people” should not turn to “judicial activism” with the “unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress”. Who is he trying to kid?
Obamacare is a repudiation of the Constitution
Disregard for a moment, the plethora of unelected “czars” the President has empowered over nearly every facet of our lives. Set aside the fact that striking down unconstitutional legislation is the court’s duty and the antipathy of judicial activism. And never mind that the healthcare legislation squeaked through the House of Representatives by a margin of 219 to 212, despite a huge Democrat majority and a flagrant disregard for Congressional rules. Let’s focus on the one pertinent issue; Obamacare is a repudiation of the U.S. Constitution.
Judicial review of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act centers on the unprecedented use of Article 1, Section 8, Clause 3 (Commerce Clause) of the U.S. Constitution to force Americans and legal residents to purchase healthcare coverage or pay a tax penalty. In effect, Obamacare attempts to use the Commerce Clause to grant police power (i.e., the power to compel individuals to take specific action for the “public good”) to the federal government. That’s a big problem.
The Tenth Amendment stipulates that powers not expressly granted to the federal government by the Constitution are retained by the separate states or the people. Simply put, the federal government does not have national police power. In recent rulings, the Supreme Court stated, “We have always rejected readings of the Commerce Clause and the scope of federal power that would permit Congress to exercise a police power.”
Furthermore, Congress has never before sought to use its commerce power to regulate “economic inactivity”. If Congress is deemed to have the authority to regulate economic inactivity of individuals by forcing commercial transactions with a third party, the power of Congress will be virtually unlimited. No aspect of economic decision-making would be exempt from government control. Validation of such an expansion of government authority by the Supreme Court would be a radical departure from existing case law.
Why democrats are attempting to redefine the Commerce Clause
So why are the Obama Administration and Congressional Democrats attempting to use the Commerce Clause to establish the individual mandate of healthcare insurance? The answer is surprisingly simple. It is the only conceivable way to implement the individual mandate. Obamacare cannot function as advertised without it.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act requires all insurers to cover all pre-existing conditions and issue health insurance at standard rates to all applicants regardless of how sick they are. Under such circumstances, healthy people will avoid buying coverage, knowing they are guaranteed coverage if they become ill. With only sick people in the market, costs per insured persons will soar and insurance rates will skyrocket. Without forcing all people to buy insurance, the private market would spiral into oblivion with a shrinking pool of insured and unaffordable premiums.
Of course, while running for the U.S. Senate, Barack Obama said, “I happen to be a proponent of a single-payer healthcare program”. That could be why the Obamacare tax penalty for not purchasing insurance is far less than health insurance premiums. If private insurers are driven out of business, Medicaid will become the vehicle to establish full-fledged socialized healthcare.
Regardless of President Obama’s intent, his healthcare legislation is almost certain to be struck down by the Supreme Court. A different outcome would truly be without legal precedent in American history.