Can the Federal Government of the United States force anyone to buy a good or service?
That’s the big underlying question in the Health Care Debate that our Representatives in the House and Senate refuse to comment on other than assuming that they have the authority. They assume that they can do whatever they please.
The question is, have these people that have sworn to uphold and protect the Constitution went too far?
Auto Insurance, Home Owners Insurance, etc.
The thing is, though the States have mandated that you pay for auto insurance (enforced by checks at the time of registration), you only need to buy it if you want to drive an automobile. It’s something that comes part of a different good that you have purchased.
Home Owner’s Insurance is necessary mostly because most people get their money to purchase the house through a bank, that demands that the house be insured so that they do not lose their investment. Flood insurance is optional.
The Difference Is Federal
The problem with comparing these with what the Federal Government is trying to do is that where States may have done these things, most of what the Federal Government tries to do is through something called the Commerce Clause that allows the Feds to regulate commerce across states.
However, this current health care bill doesn’t allow the purchase of insurance from other states, and it’s forcing people to purchase insurance either in their state or from the Federal Government (if the “Public Option” passes).
So how exactly is mandating that people buy insurance fitting in with Congress’ ability to regulate commerce?
The only way I can see it is that they are going to say that it lowers the price by requiring people to get in. But that’s sketchy at best.
What if This Provision Fails?
Our Founders never envisioned having the government force people to buy things. So it’ll probably fail a Supreme Court test. But what happens when this part of the plan fails?
Oh, you’ll like this—the rest of the bill is kept in force, so the main cost-cutting part goes down, and we assume a bigger bill. Great, eh?
What About the Precedent?
If this provision passes, what would be the result on future legislation—what would be the precedent?
In a recent interview with CNSNews.com, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R.-Utah), a longtime member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said that it was “not constitutionally sound” for Congress to mandate that individuals buy health insurance.
“But here would be the first time where our [federal] government would demand that people buy something that they may or may not want,” said Hatch. “And, you know, if that’s the case, then we didn’t need a ‘Cash for Clunkers,’ all we had to do is have the federal government say you all got to buy new cars, no matter how tough it is on you. You know, they could require you to buy anything. And that isn’t America. That’s not freedom. That’s not constitutionally sound.” [CNS News – Sen. Ben Nelson: ‘I’m Not Going to Be Able to Answer That Question’ of Where Constitution Authorizes Congress to Force Americans to Buy Health Insurance]
So, that leaves us in a pickle either way—seems best if the bill doesn’t pass at all!