Constitution? What Constitution? Patrick Leahy either feigns ignorance or demonstrates it when questioned about the authority for the federal government to mandate the purchase of health insurance. CNS News captures this moment of either forced or natural obtuseness by the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee (via The College Politico on Twitter):
Q: I just want to know where, in your opinion, does the Constitution give specific authority for Congress to give an individual mandate for health insurance?
LEAHY: What — we have plenty of authority. Are you saying there is no authority?
Q: I’m asking —
LEAHY: Why would you say there is no authority? I mean, there’s no question there’s authority. Nobody questions that.
Q: But where — I mean, which —
LEAHY: Where do we have authority to set speed limits on an interstate highway?
Q: Well, the states do that.
LEAHY: No, no, the federal government does that.
Well, actually, they don’t set those limits now, although they did in the past. The answer to that question is that the federal government built the interstate highway system, and that Americans have the option to use them or not. The government does not make driving on these highways mandatory, nor does it make the purchase of gasoline (which has a federal tax component) mandatory, either.
In fact, plenty of people question whether the Constitution allows the federal government the authority to mandate any kind of purchase. It gives C0ngress the authority to regulate interstate commerce, but that wouldn’t apply at all — because the federal government blocks the interstate sale of health insurance at the moment.
At least a few people have been asking this question for months. Apparently, Senator Leahy is a little too busy in his ivory tower to listen.