Health Insurance and the Constitution’s Commerce Clause
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued a press release on September 16, 2009 in which she stated opponents to health care reform continue to spread myths about such reform, including the “nonsensical claim that the federal government has no constitutionally valid role in reforming our health care system…”
She also states: “The 10th amendment to the U.S. Constitution states that the powers not delegated to the federal government by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states … or to the people. But the Constitution gives Congress broad power to regulate activities that have an effect on interstate commerce. Congress has used this authority to regulate many aspects of American life, from labor relations to education to health care to agricultural production. Since virtually every aspect of the heath care system has an effect on interstate commerce, the power of Congress to regulate health care is essentially unlimited.” http://www.speaker.gov/newsroom/factcheck?id=0107
Judge Andrew Napolitano,former Superior Court judge of New Jersey and now the senior judicial analyst at Fox News, stated in a September 15, 2009 Wall Street Journal article that “One of those powers—the power ‘to regulate’ interstate commerce—is the favorite hook on which Congress hangs its hat in order to justify the regulation of anything it wants to control.”
Judge Napolitano goes on to say that James Madison “argued that to regulate meant to keep regular.” “Madison’s understanding was the commonly held one in 1789, since the principle reason for the Constitutional Convention was to establish a central government that would prevent ruinous state-imposed tariffs that favored in-state businesses. It would do so by assuring that commerce between the states was kept ‘regular.’”
Judge Napolitano ends his article with “What we have here is raw abuse of power by the federal government for political purposes. The president and his colleagues want to reward their supporters with ‘free’ health care that the rest of us will end up paying for. Their only restraint on their exercise of Commerce Clause power is whatever they can get away with. They aren’t upholding the Constitution—they are evading it.”
Samuel Johnson’s 1785 Dictionary of the English Language, written in London, England defines “to regulate” as “1. To adjust by rule or method. . . . 2. To direct.”
Noah Webster’s famous 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language defines regulate as:
“1. To adjust by rule, method or established mode; as, to regulate weights and measures; …
“2. To put in good order; as, to regulate the disordered state of a nation or its finances.
“3. To subject to rules or restrictions; as, to regulate trade; to regulate diet”
Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution reads: “The Congress shall have power …To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with Indian Tribes.”
Do you feel the power of Congress to regulate health care is essentially unlimited; or is it limited?