“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,” writes Judge Andrew Napolitano, in a WSJ op-ed.
“James Madison, who argued that to regulate meant to keep regular, would have shuddered at such circular reasoning. 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.’” …
“Applying these principles to President Barack Obama’s health-care proposal, it’s clear that his plan is unconstitutional at its core. The practice of medicine consists of the delivery of intimate services to the human body. In almost all instances, the delivery of medical services occurs in one place and does not move across interstate lines. One goes to a physician not to engage in commercial activity, as the Framers of the Constitution understood, but to improve one’s health. And the practice of medicine, much like public school safety, has been regulated by states for the past century.”
“The same Congress that wants to tell family farmers what to grow in their backyards has declined ‘to keep regular’ the commercial sale of insurance policies. It has permitted all 50 states to erect the type of barriers that the Commerce Clause was written precisely to tear down. Insurers are barred from selling policies to people in another state.”
“That’s right: Congress refuses to keep commerce regular when the commercial activity is the sale of insurance, but claims it can regulate the removal of a person’s appendix because that constitutes interstate commerce.”
Update I: My opinion of Turley’s latter day obsessions were reiterated in “To Bug Or Not To Bug Abu Zubaydah’s Cage”:
Forgotten in the faff over “enhanced interrogation” tactics is the invasion of Iraq. Of this war crime, most Democrats are as guilty as Republicans. The torture fracas is like manna from heaven for both parties and their media lapdogs, who cannot be coaxed out of a coma.
Whether to bug Zubaydah’s cage or not: this is a limited, small, relatively safe distraction that allows complicit journalists, jurists, politicians and pointy heads to skirt the real issue: the need to prosecute Bush, Cheney, Clinton, Kerry, for invading Iraq.
Turley, moreover, is a stickler for the letter of the law—the positive law—but not necessarily for the higher moral law.
Update II (Sept. 17): The thrust of the healthcare proposal, “unveiled yesterday by Senate Finance Committee chairman Max Baucus,” is sufficiently simple to defer to National Review, for once:
“[I]t tries to expand coverage through coercion and hidden taxes instead of through consumer choice and price competition in a free market.
Like the bills that have been approved by committees in the House and Senate, the Baucus plan is built on mandates, expanded governmental control, and taxes. It would require all Americans to sign up for government-approved insurance or face a hefty federal tax penalty — up to $3,800 per family. Employers would be required to offer insurance conforming to government specs or pay a head tax on each of their full-time employees.
There is no breakthrough miracle cure to be found here: Insurance coverage is expanded with tried-and-true, heavy-handed regulation. Americans who don’t play along will be disciplined by the IRS.
To take some of the sting out of the individual mandate, Senator Baucus promises new subsidies to some low-income families. He would limit their portion of the insurance premiums to a percentage of their income. Families with incomes at three to four times the poverty level would pay no more than 13 percent of their incomes toward insurance. But this promise comes with a lot of fine print: Workers with incomes in these ranges who are offered qualified coverage by their employers are ineligible for additional subsidization. They will have no choice but to take what is offered at work — whether they can afford it or not. According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), only about 13 million people will be getting subsidized insurance through the exchanges in 2014 even though there are, as of 2008, 127 million Americans under age 65 in households with incomes between 100 and 400 percent of the federal poverty line. For the vast majority of Americans, therefore, the individual mandate is simply a hidden, onerous, and regressive tax.” …