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  • Video: Sen. Hatch Says Congress Is Boldly Going Where It Has Never Gone Before

    Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) addressed The Heritage Foundation yesterday on the unconstitutionality of congressional action that forces Americans to buy health insurance under Obamacare.

    In Sen. Hatch’s opinion, that mandate would not pass muster under the Constitution, and it would be an entirely unprecedented action that is beyond the scope of Congress’ powers:

    Make no mistake, requiring individuals to purchase a particular good or service, as these bills would do, would be boldly going where Congress has never gone before. Congress has regulated interstate commerce, but has not required that people engage in it. The Supreme Court has expanded Congress’ power to regulate activities that substantially affect interstate commerce, but not the requirement that people engage in those activities.

    When Sen. Hatch speaks of Congress’ powers to regulate interstate commerce, he is referring to powers with their roots in the Commerce Clause, an enumerated power found in Article I, Section 8, Clause 3, of the Constitution, which says the U.S. Congress shall have the power “To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes.”

    As Sen. Hatch noted, the Supreme Court has expanded the meaning of the Commerce Clause to allow Congress to regulate not only commerce itself (such as the sale of goods across state lines), but “activities that substantially affect commerce.”

    For example, in the 1942 case of Wickard v. Filburn, the Court ruled that Congress has the power to set national quotas on how much wheat one grows on their own land for their own consumption. In the Court’s view, even that personal, local activity of producing and consuming wheat could affect prices and the market, therefore subjecting it to congressional regulation under the Commerce Clause.

    However, Sen. Hatch pointed out that the Court’s interpretation limited Congress to regulating activities. If Congress were to mandate that Americans must buy health insurance, it would be entering into an entirely new realm of power and regulation:

    Congress has regulated interstate commerce, but has not required that people engage in it. The Supreme Court has expanded Congress’ power to regulate activities that substantially affect interstate commerce, but not the requirement that people engage in those activities.

    The effects of such a broad expansion of congressional power, Sen. Hatch said, would be far-reaching.

    If Congress can require purchase of particular goods or services to help the economy, there was no need for the Cash for Clunkers program. There was no need for the Troubled Asset Relief Program or the other bailouts. Congress could tell people to purchase a certain car, invest their money in certain companies, or deposit what is left of their paychecks in certain banks. If there is no difference between incentives and mandates, between regulating what people choose to do and requiring that they do it, between activity and non-activity, then the Constitution provides no limits on the power of the federal government. And without the necessary condition of such limits, liberty itself is at risk.

    Sen. Hatch said that there are constitutional means which Congress can use to increase health insurance coverage, but those methods aren’t being considered. And as for the unconstitutional tactics, Sen. Hatch pointed out that the American people stand firmly against them:

    A national poll conducted last month found that 75 percent of Americans believe that requiring them to purchase health insurance is unconstitutional because Congress’ power to regulate commerce does not include telling Americans what they must buy.

    To read more about the constitutionality of congressional mandates, check out The Heritage Foundation Legal Memorandum, “Why the Personal Mandate to Buy Health Insurance Is Unprecedented and Unconstitutional,” by Randy Barnett, Nathaniel Stewart and Todd F. Gaziano.

    Posted in Obamacare, Ongoing Priorities [slideshow_deploy]

    12 Responses to Video: Sen. Hatch Says Congress Is Boldly Going Where It Has Never Gone Before

    1. Jill, California says:

      The Heritage Foundation Legal Memorandum cited above is a great read for anyone who has studied constitutional law. I'm relieved to see that the Heritage Foundation and others are already preparing for a Supreme Court challenge.

    2. Dale, Oklahoma says:

      Personally I would love to see the GOP or

      any Republican or conservative organization put together a radio and television ad that compares the internment

      of Japanese-Americans to the imprisonment

      of Americans for not paying the fines for not having health insurance. If Japanese-

      Americans can be imprisoned for simply being PERCEIVED as a threat to the general

      welfare of other Americans, and now any

      American will ( if the Demagogocrats get

      their way ) be imprisoned for not having

      health insurance or for not paying their fines (even if they CAN'T AFFORD EITHER), then the people who should really be imprisoned is the moronic politicians who try to pass this unconstitutional law.

    3. Bill, Kansas City, M says:

      We need to demand a Constitutional amendment and set term limits for Congress.

    4. Tim Az says:

      I find it curious that these liberals in congress do not see that their administration is engaged in the disctraction of healthcare as red meat. While the administration uses the EPA to siphon away the power from congress to regulate commerce through environmental controls. How much longer will congress remain relevant in America? Who's in charge hear?

    5. Jerry from Chicago says:

      This country is also boldly going where it's never been before – downhill, straight into the sewer.

    6. Lynn B. DeSpain says:

      Not Boldly, but Blindly, Deafly and Mutely!

    7. Pingback: Dread and Facebook Games – Blog Watch

    8. Sandy, Nevada says:

      A Democratic Republic only works if the governed have enough sense to control the government through the ballot box. America apparently has lost that control … for now. But times will be a-changin' … and soon.

    9. Barry F,Williamsport says:

      1st world to 3rd world in one easy step 11/04/08.

      It's time for a second american revolution 2010 lets make BHO a lame duck for the last 2 years in office. I love the people with short memories that are upset with the GOP voting against everything. They don't remember just a few short years ago that the dems were the one's using the same tactics to prevent any kind of change from the status-quo.

    10. Dan, Georgia says:

      Generally, buying any service or commodity has been, up to this point in time,a privilege not a requirement. The Community Organization followers have got this concept turned around. We don't need our gov't forcing us to purchase anything we don't want to!!!! Freedom of CHOICE should be the rule of law and get gov't out of the way!!!

    11. ANDY, Louisiana says:

      ANDY, Louisiana writes:

      Most of the legislation and activities of this current administration have been in blatent opposition to the will of the majority of the people, including their own constituents, and much of it is unarguably unconstitutional, as has been well noted. Since everyone in office in both Federal & State Governments, and the Military, is Sworn to “Defend the Constitution”, I would ask, “Who is defending it now?” It’s obvious, and well docummented, that the power players in this administration are bent on systimatically destroying our constitutional government and replacing it with something ratically different. If that’s not Treason, then what is? Where is the outrage? Where are the “Recall Petitions”? There is no requirement to wait for an election to recall an out-of-control politician, even a president.

      The “TEA Party” movement should fill the capitol mall with 200 to 300 thousand people, pitch tents and camp-out, with huge signs and magaphones. They should be loud and persistent, but civil. They must make it obvious that they plan to stay until (1) they are acknowledged, (2) these unconstitutional programs are reversed, and (3) the renegade politicians are replaced with genuine, conservative “Statesmen”, and “Stateswomen”.

      This type of peaceful demonstration / protest is exactly what occured in 1963 and it worked then.

      That is exactly what must happen now if conservative government, “of the people, by the people and for the people” is to be restored; and real capitolistic opportunity returned to this great nation.

    12. Frederick Dyson says:

      Sen. Hatch,

      I agree. It is entirely unconstitutional to force any of us to purchase health insurance. But I did not see any of the possible bills being presented to congress that did not include this forceful mandate. Not only are the people being ignored on this issue, it appears that our elected representatives have been coerced or bribed into supporting it. Sen. Hatch is one of the few standing up against it. Good man!

      I am certainly not a right wing conservative, but I have had enough. I might even vote Republican (gaagh) in the next election. I know many people who are so disgusted with the whole business that they are about ready to quit voting altogether.

      I have even heard many aquaintances talk about moving out of country because they are scared of what will be happening over the next few years.

      The insurance companies are going to make billions in profits from this. We can see them rubbing their oily hands together — another 30 million clients!!

      A few million here and there spread amongst the "people's representatives" sure has been money well invested.

      For whom do we vote? On this one issue alone, I would support Sen Hatch.

      And yet there is a way out of this if we would get out of the box and think more clearly.

      Sen Hatch, I came to your office some years ago and presented a comprehensive plan to solve these problems. Whatever happened to your support for a truly free enterprise solution?

      Did your staff ever follow up? They were enamoured of our solution. Yet no response.

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