by Daren Bakst
Senior Research Fellow in Agricultural Policy, Heritage Foundation
Now that the Obama Administration and opponents of Obamacare are asking the Supreme Court to hear the challenges to Obamacare (plus the split in the Circuit Courts), it is even more likely that we will get an answer very soon (by June, 2012) as to whether the individual mandate is constitutional. It also is possible that the Court could strike down the entire law because the individual mandate can’t be severed from the whole law.
Today, I have an op-ed appearing in the Raleigh News & Observer about the potential fate of Obamacare, along with arguments as to why Obamacare has less to do with health care and more to do with liberty and federal power:
Regardless of your beliefs about health care reform, the possibility that Congress could dictate how you spend your money should worry you. If Congress has this power, nothing would prevent an endless series of congressional votes for Americans to purchase mandated goods and services. That could make it impossible for you to have money for your own discretionary use.
While the Supreme Court has largely ignored constitutional limits on congressional power, some limits must be respected. Otherwise, our freedom will be at risk. The court likely will decide the mandate issue that has little to do with health care and everything to do with liberty.
However, I believe another very important argument, which I hadn’t seen, is the fact that there’s no reason why Congress couldn’t simply dictate every facet of our lives through mandating purchases. Congress could force all of us to buy so many things we have nothing left to spend.
Often, when I write about these critical constitutional questions, supporters of Obamacare want to make knee-jerk responses that are grounded solely in health care policy arguments (assuming they make any arguments at all). This isn’t a health care policy debate, at least it shouldn’t be in the courts. This is a constitutional debate about the scope of Congressional power.
Make mo mistake, this will be a close decision in the Supreme Court. I’m guessing 5-4 and being the optimist that I am (don’t laugh), I’ll go on a limb and say the Court strikes down the mandate (although, it may not strike down the whole law–it will be close).