The Commerce Clause and your vest
It's always hard to say what one Supreme Court case means for another Supreme Court case. But as Warren Richey reports, the court -- to the dismay of Justices Scalia and Thomas, both of whom dissented -- just turned down a suit that would've given them an excellent opportunity to more narrowly interpret the Commerce Clause, if that was something they were interested in doing:
In a case with potential implications for legal challenges to the Obama health-care reform law, the US Supreme Court on Monday refused to examine whether Congress overstepped its authority when it made it a federal crime for a convicted felon to possess a bullet-proof vest.
The key question in Alderman v. US was whether there are limits to Congress’s ability under the Constitution’s commerce clause to outlaw a local, intrastate activity like wearing body armor...Had the high court taken up the Alderman case, it would have signaled a willingness by the justices to closely examine what limits, if any, apply to congressional power under the commerce clause. ...
Thomas said the lower court decision in the Alderman case “could very well remove any limit on the commerce power.”
The legal question with the individual mandate, of course, is whether you feel it exceeds the powers granted to the government under the Supreme Court's interpretation of the Commerce Clause. I think it's hard to argue that regulating a national health-care system is a less appropriate use of federal power than deciding what people can wear when they walk to the grocery, but so be it. As I've noted before, feelings on the individual mandate tend to turn on party and overall opinion of the health-care law, and it's entirely possible that the court's members will find themselves with much stronger feelings on those questions than on bullet-proof vests.
Posted by: josephpatel | January 11, 2011 11:02 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: MosBen | January 11, 2011 2:15 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: michaelh81 | January 11, 2011 6:41 PM | Report abuse