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The Supreme Court and Obamacare

April 3, 2012
Rep. Ron Paul, Texas Straight Talk
4/2/2012

Last week the Supreme Court heard arguments concerning the constitutionality of the Obamacare law, focusing on the mandate requiring every American to buy health insurance or pay fines enforced by the IRS.  Hopefully the Court will strike down this abomination, but we must recognize that the federal judiciary has an abysmal record when it comes to protecting liberty.  It’s doubtful the entire law will be struck down.  Regardless, the political left will continue its drive toward a single-payer, government run health care system.

The insurance mandate clearly exceeds the federal government’s powers under the interstate commerce clause found in Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution.  This is patently obvious: the power to “regulate” commerce cannot include the power to compel commerce!  Those who claim otherwise simply ignore the plain meaning of the Constitution because they don’t want to limit federal power in any way.

The commerce clause was intended simply to give Congress the power to regulate foreign trade, and also to prevent states from imposing tariffs on interstate goods.  In Federalist Paper No. 22, Alexander Hamilton makes it clear the simple intent behind the clause was to prevent states from placing tolls or tariffs on goods as they passed through each state– a practice that had proven particularly destructive across the many principalities of the German empire.

But the Supreme Court has utterly abused the commerce clause for decades, at least since the infamous 1942 case of Wickard v. Filburn.  In that instance the Court decided that a farmer growing wheat for purely personal use still affected interstate commerce–presumably by not participating in it!  As economist Thomas Sowell explains in a recent article, the Wickard case marked the final death of federalism: if the federal government can regulate “anything with any potential effect on interstate commerce, the 10th Amendment’s limitations on the power of the federal government virtually disappeared.”

And now… the rest of the story. …..

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