Tag Archives: The Federalist Papers

Obamacare, the Constitution, and the Founders – What SCOTUS should be debating

As we’re on the last day of arguments before the Supreme Court on the constitutionality of Obamacare, there are pundits from all sides offering their thoughts on every look, twitch, word, and tone coming from the Justices during the sessions. The vast majority are focused on the elasticity of the Commerce Clause and today in particular, on the lack of a Severability Clause in the current law. While the former is a favorite among left-wing legal analysts and Constitutionalists alike, the latter is the most-likely candidate to become the linchpin that either holds the law in place, or ends its existence.

Choose your painkillers

Choose your painkillers - Eric Norris (CC)


But neither of these even mentions one thing that theoretically should have been the center of the debate from the beginning. Obamacare overextends into the realm of State powers. Over-stretching the Commerce Clause to make it fit was wishful thinking, and hopefully the Justices will point that out. The only Constitutional way the Federal Government really had to enact this reform was through its power of taxation, not the regulation of commerce. For a relatively plain language explanation of this, one needs to look no further than The Federalist Papers, No. 45 to be exact.

The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government, are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce; with which last the power of taxation will, for the most part, be connected. The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State.

It is not the Constitution. It is arguably, the definitive lobbyist’s playbook on the side of the States adopting the Constitution. Any time anyone suggests that SCOTUS needs to stop legislating from the bench, and stay true to the intentions of the Founders, this collection of documents should be included in the statement.

And in this case, Obamacare is a case of the Federal government overstepping into the realm of State jurisdiction. This is also why comparing this law to the one adopted in Massachusetts is a fallacy. The government of Massachusetts had the right to create that program for the benefit of their residents, as does every other State in the Union if it so chooses. You want healthcare reform, stop crying to Washington for it. It is a State issue, not Federal. Unless, of course, you are willing to take a massive Federal tax hike to pay for it. And yes, this is a little note to the Romney campaign – please feel free to point out what I’ve said here. Romneycare does not equal Obamacare, period.