On March 26-28, the Court heard an unprecedented six hours of oral arguments concerning the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare. The justices asked several important and pointed questions about the main controversy swirling around the Act — the individual mandate. The crux of the issue boils down to this: Can commercial inaction be regulated under the Commerce Clause?
Under the Constitution, the federal government has only limited authority and specific, delegated powers. One of the powers, granted under the Commerce Clause, enables the federal government to regulate interstate commerce. Over time, the Commerce Clause has expanded to include several types of commercial activity but it has never before been applied to inaction.
Not purchasing health insurance is inaction. Yet the Obama Administration has argued that eventually all Americans will participate in health services and this must amount to commercial activity — or action. Therefore, the Administration claims, everyone should be forced to purchase health insurance to help mitigate the costs of those who have no insurance.
If we accept this argument, however, what’s to stop the government from controlling every decision in our lives? Fruit and vegetables are healthy for us and if we eat more of them, we may avoid expensive medical costs down the road. So why don’t we just go ahead and mandate that everyone purchase a certain number of healthy foods weekly? Everyone eventually dies and funerals are expensive, so what’s to stop the government from forcing all Americans to purchase a burial insurance plan?
It is these types of philosophical questions that the Court will have to consider when it makes its decision, expected in late June. Justices Anthony Kennedy and John Roberts will likely be the deciding factors. If they agree with the conservatives and reject the healthcare overhaul in its entirety, Obamacare will fail. If not, Obamacare could be implemented in full or in part. Let us hope the Supreme Court stands firm on the principles of freedom and limited government and rejects an ever-expanding and encroaching leftist agenda.