On Tuesday, May 11, I spoke on a panel at the National Press Club titled: “Is Obamacare Constitutional?”
In my opinion, and the opinion of many others, Obamacare is not constitutional and it is only a matter of time before the Supreme Court strikes it down.
At one of my town hall meetings earlier this year, a gentleman asked me, “What’s the role of the federal government?” My response was very simple and straight forward: “The role of the federal government is what the Constitution says it is – no more, no less.”
Congress tried to do more through Obamacare, and because of it, I think we’ll happily be left with less Obamacare.
The U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights were established to limit power, particularly federal power. One of my primary issues with the health care law is its unconstitutional use of the Commerce Clause to wield more power.
Obamacare forces citizens to buy government-approved health insurance, and those who do not comply will be punished by an annual tax penalty that will rise to $750 or 2 percent of a person’s income, whichever is higher, by 2016.
This is unconstitutional and unprecedented. The Commerce Clause has never been used by Congress to require citizens purchase a product from a private company in order to be a law-abiding citizen.
The Supreme Court has often rebuked Congress for overreaching, so I think it is very likely that the Supreme Court will review whether this violates the constitutional rights of citizens and in the end strike it down. I would hope that there are not five justices on the Supreme Court who would vote to grant Congress even more authority.
If the Supreme Court did grant Congress more power – if they allowed Congress to force Americans to buy a product – we’d need to ask ourselves where the line for limited government is drawn. That ruling would essentially allow Congress to do whatever it wanted – whether that be mandating us to buy a GM car to help the government-supported auto industry or require everyone to grow their own vegetables.
At this point, we need to wait and see what happens in the courts with the lawsuits brought by the Attorneys General of many states. The Supreme Court taking up this case and striking down the individual mandate component is crucial, because once it’s struck down, that essentially does away with the “guts” of the law. It’s also important that the court hear arguments on this case quickly, as every option to repeal this legislation and replace it with something better has been considered; but until Jan. 20, 2013, we simply won’t have enough power or enough votes to do this. Our only legitimate option to halting Obamacare before 2013 is to put all of our eggs in the judicial basket.
U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Menomonee Falls) represents Wisconsin’s 5th District.