Supporters of the Democrats’ health care bill may think that now that it’s been signed into law, it’s safe from further attack. Don’t be too sure.
Many elements of this bill are of questionable constitutionality, the most notable of which being the “Individual Mandate.”
This mandate is entirely unprecedented. Never before has Congress mandated that private individuals agree to a contract with another private entity just because they’re alive. Certainly, the purchase of a car is mandated to coincide with the purchase of car insurance. However, the purchase of a car is understood by past courts to be a form of commerce, which falls under the “Commerce Clause” of the US Constitution. Thus, the real question at hand is this: is the non-purchase of health insurance a form of “commerce” that can be regulated under the Commerce Clause? If the power isn’t specifically delegated to the federal government by the Constitution, the 10th Amendment can, and will, be applied to deem it unconstitutional.
Some less-informed Democratic Congressmen have also tried to justify the mandate under the “General Welfare Clause.” However, this clause only states that Congress may “lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises” to provide for the general welfare. It does not state that Congress may force private individuals to make contracts, and it actually specifies that all taxes laid by Congress “shall be uniform throughout the United States,” making the use of tax as punishment of those without health insurance entirely unconstitutional.
So is this “Individual Mandate” unconstitutional? I certainly think so. I think it’s only a matter of time before it, along with other questionable components, are struck down in the Supreme Court.