Green Room

There is no “just trust us” clause in the Constitution

posted at 7:12 pm on March 26, 2012 by

Tomorrow, the United States Supreme Court continues hearing arguments regarding the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), a.k.a., Obamacare. This time, the Court will consider the arguments related to the “main event” of the hearings: the constitutionality of the law’s individual mandate. The individual mandate requires every American, with a few exceptions, to purchase a government-approved health insurance plan, or be forced to pay a fine.

Modern jurisprudence has increasingly allowed the federal government to regulate commerce that is not of an obviously interstate nature. The issue here is that PPACA goes further and regulates the non-purchase of a good or service. Rather than simply regulating the manner in which the health insurance market will operate, PPACA requires that everyone in the country buy something, or be fined. Under this paradigm, market participation would no longer be required for regulation under the Commerce Clause; instead, and in a very real way, the feds would subject you to a purchase requirement merely for being a living, breathing American.

That is a problem. Having a health insurance plan makes sense, but compelling Americans to buy a health insurance plan through heavy-handed federal coercion is awful policy and arguably unconstitutional. Reading into the U.S. Constitution a federal right to demand purchases from its citizens would eviscerate many of the limits on government power enshrined in that document.

If the federal government can require individuals to purchase health insurance, what can’t the federal government require us to purchase? Ilya Somin, a law professor at George Mason University who has filed a brief with the court, contends that if PPACA passes constitutional muster, then Congress could pass “a broccoli mandate, a car-purchase mandate, really any other mandate that you’d want.” Where is the line against such coercion drawn if not by the plain meaning of the Constitution?

Proponents of PPACA have dismissed the suggestion that the federal government would impose a “broccoli mandate,” arguing that the federal government would never try to expand a mandate to purchase goods and services into such areas. But Americans should not have to entrust their freedoms to the word of politicians and bureaucrats, well-meaning or not.

There is no “just trust us” clause in the Constitution. The Constitution is the check that keeps capricious leaders from doing capricious things, and should remain so.

This post originally appeared at Show-Me Daily, the blog of the Show-Me Institute.

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Comments

I’d like to know how a bill that many legislators admit they never read in its entirety can become law and we are saddled with it?

arnold ziffel on March 26, 2012 at 7:30 PM

There is no “just trust us” clause in the Constitution. The Constitution is the check that keeps capricious leaders from doing capricious things, and should remain so.

A corrupt and venal electorate votes for a contemptible man who forces these mandates on the nation with the acquiescence of the DC career politicians, and the final word in this case will be the equally capricious Supreme Court?

sharrukin on March 26, 2012 at 7:39 PM

If government can require private citizens to purchases anything at all from private individuals or concerns…in this case force citizens to purchase health insurance or be required to pay a fine (tax) then what else may government require?

The broccolli thing has been amking the rounds…but in reality, our laws are based on what is permissible among the population…thus..if government can force us to buy health insurance…can they require us to purchases only government subsidized cars? Or require us to buy only approved foods, approved clothing, approved newspapers, approved cable TV programs and services?

Once that door is opened by the USSC…should they uphold Obamacare…there is no limit to what government can require us to pay out of pocket and face heavy fines for non-compliance.

Solar panels, anyone?

Wind Turbines?

Electric cars?

coldwarrior on March 26, 2012 at 7:43 PM

There’s no just trust us clause in the Constitution bcuz the Constitution itself is one long “no, we don’t trust you” clause of well-defined limitations and scarce enumerated powers.

stukinIL4now on March 27, 2012 at 12:56 AM

There is no “just trust us” clause in the Constitution. The Constitution is the check that keeps capricious leaders from doing capricious things, and should remain so.

Sure but there is not a prohibition against fedreal mandates in the constitutions either.

lexhamfox on March 27, 2012 at 2:24 AM

Lexhamfox… There doesn’t need to be a prohibition against mandates. According to the 10th Amendment, it only has the powers delegated to it… Now the states on the other hand are a different matter all together.

http://www.imperfectamerica.com

imperfectamerica on March 27, 2012 at 4:52 AM

A broccoli mandate my be far-fetched, but a federal mandate to put a “smart grid” electricity regulator in your home might not be so far-fetched. A federal law restricting your purchase of ammunition might not be far-fetched.

I believe this mandate really is a nose under the camel’s tent, cleverly disguised in a somewhat popular health care reform bill, but its real intent is to demolish the limit of federal power over your individual person, home, and property.

rockmom on March 27, 2012 at 8:28 AM

Sure but there is not a prohibition against fedreal mandates in the constitutions either.

lexhamfox on March 27, 2012 at 2:24 AM

Hurp derp

Try, you know, reading the Constitution. The 10th Amendment states:

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

No power to place the mandate in the enumerated powers = power is prohibited to the Feds. Pretty damned straight-forward.

Asurea on March 27, 2012 at 8:33 AM

Did Kagan recuse herself? No. Thought so. She’s there just for this moment.

Kissmygrits on March 27, 2012 at 10:19 AM

Where is the line against such coercion drawn if not by the plain meaning of the Constitution?

Why sir, it is plain that that line is there. It is obvious and well understood by everyone. That line is called the HORIZON. It’s right there, can’t you see it? Let’s start walking to it and, when we get there, you will know that we have drawn a clear bright line that limits the power of the Federal government

Michael K. on March 27, 2012 at 11:48 AM

There is no “just trust us” clause in the Constitution. The Constitution is the check that keeps capricious leaders from doing capricious things, and should remain so.

Nice job, Patrick! Couldn’t agree more.

DanaLynn on March 27, 2012 at 12:14 PM

Sure but there is not a prohibition against fedreal mandates in the constitutions either.

lexhamfox on March 27, 2012 at 2:24 AM

Standard backward lib misinterpretation of the Constitution. The Constitution specifically prohibits the federal government from doing anything that is NOT specifically stated as something it can do.

The entire Constitution is one big statement that says “we don’t trust government”.

dentarthurdent on March 28, 2012 at 11:06 AM


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