Is the individual mandate constitutional?
In a conference call, Chuck Grassley raised the idea that the individual mandate is unconstitutional. He didn't endorse it, or embrace it. Just raised the question. Suggested it could use some discussion. He's just spitballing, you know?
Before we get started down this road, yes, the individual mandate is constitutional. For a roundup of the argument, see this Tim Noah piece. For a longer, more technical explanation, see this post by law professor Erik Hall.
The summary is that you can look at the individual mandate as a tax, which is constitutional, or as a regulation forcing private actors to engage in a certain transaction, much like the minimum wage, which is also constitutional. I've also heard scholars mention auto insurance, which is an obvious analogue, and the Americans With Disabilities Act, which proved that the government can order businesses to install ramps, despite the fact that the constitution doesn't explicitly give the federal government jurisdiction over entryways.
It's also worth noting that Massachusetts has had an individual mandate on the books for a couple of years now. Its constitutionality remains unchallenged. And back in June, Grassley himself supported an individual mandate in health care. "I believe that there is a bipartisan consensus to have individual mandates," he told Fox News. He didn't add, "and to rip up the Constitution!" His colleagues Bob Bennett, Lamar Alexander, Norm Coleman, Bob Corker, Mike Crapo, Lindsey Graham, Judd Gregg and Trent Lott have also come out in support of an individual mandate, as they all co-sponsored Ron Wyden's Healthy Americans Act, which includes one. The constitutionality of the mandate has not been in question among Republicans. But some of them are getting a bit desperate.
Photo credit: By Melina Mara/The Washington Post
Posted by: Mike_Russo | November 12, 2009 6:24 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: bmull | November 12, 2009 6:39 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: StokeyWan | November 12, 2009 6:47 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: dn131 | November 12, 2009 6:55 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: rollup1369 | November 12, 2009 8:59 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: johnowl | November 12, 2009 9:14 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: robbins2 | November 12, 2009 10:31 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: georgecallas | November 13, 2009 8:23 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: redwards95 | November 13, 2009 8:54 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: MikeR4 | November 13, 2009 11:13 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: Policywonk14 | November 13, 2009 11:17 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: Mike_Russo | November 13, 2009 1:01 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: AmyinCA | November 13, 2009 6:52 PM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.