I wrote a post last week entitled “Hoyer on Constitutional Law” which dealt with the constitutionality of the power of Congress to mandate that all Americans purchase health insurance. Rep. Steny Hoyer (D. Md.), and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D.Vt.) have opined that the power to mandate the purchase of insurance comes from that portion of Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution where Congress is granted power to “lay and collect taxes…to…provide…for the general welfare…”. I strongly disagree with Rep. Hoyer’s and Sen. Leahy’s opinion, but, now, there is a new twist.
Last week, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D. Ca.) was asked the same question.
Pelosi dismissed the question by saying: “Are you serious? “Are you serious? “
Deciding that “are you serious, are you serious” wasn’t a good answer, Pelosi’s staff issued the following statement:
Congress derives the authority to mandate that people purchase health insurance from its constitutional power to regulate interstate commerce.
Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution does indeed give Congress the power to “regulate commerce … among the several states”, but using that section to support a mandate that all Americans purchase insurance is equally erroneous.
Here’s an example that I’ve used before to demonstrate how the interstate commerce clause of the Constitution will not, under any circumstances, support a mandate to purchase insurance.
Under the interstate commerce clause Congress could definitely pass a law requiring that Florida allow peaches grown in Georgia to be sold in Florida. And, under that clause, Congress could definitely pass a law requiring that Florida allow insurance companies from Georgia to sell their policies in Florida. But, that is the extent of the power.
Just as Congress, using the above example, could not then require everyone in Florida to buy peaches, it cannot then require everyone in Florida to buy insurance.
I know it’s too much to ask that everyone in Congress read the Constitution, but, is it too much to ask that everyone in Congress get on the same page?