On Tuesday, March 27, 2012, the United States Supreme Court began hearing arguments regarding the health care bill passed by the current administration. The individual mandate has been given intense scrutiny so far, but will it be enough? Some in the United States Supreme Court seem to have different views regarding the role of Government than others.
For instance, Justice Scalia compared the United States Government forcing people to buy health insurance to the United States Government forcing people to buy a certain type of food:
“Everybody has to buy food sooner or later, so you define the market as food, therefore, everybody is in the market; therefore, you can make people buy broccoli,” Scalia said”
This writer recognized that some people like broccoli, but this writer is not one of those people. Regardless of the health aspects of broccoli, this writer tends not to purchase it at the market. Do you?
Chief Justice Roberts has compared being forced to buy health insurance to being forced to buy a cell phone:
CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: Well, the same, it seems to me, would be true say for the market in emergency services: police, fire, ambulance, roadside assistance, whatever. You don’t know when you’re going to need it; you’re not sure that you will. But the same is true for health care. You don’t know if you’re going to need a heart transplant or if you ever will. So there is a market there. To — in some extent, we all participate in it. So can the government require you to buy a cell phone because that would facilitate responding when you need emergency services? You can just dial 911 no matter where you are?
GENERAL VERRILLI: No, Mr. Chief Justice. think that’s different. It’s — We — I don’t think we think of that as a market. This is a market. This is market regulation. And in addition, you have a situation in this market not only where people enter involuntarily as to when they enter and won’t be able to control what they need when they enter but when they –
CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: It seems to me that’s the same as in my hypothetical. You don’t know when you’re going to need police assistance. You can’t predict the extent to emergency response that you’ll need. But when you do, and the government provides it.
One wonders what else the United States Government could force its citizens to buy. There are just and moral arguments to this discussion, but the fact remains there are people who will refuse to be forced to buy anything.
One wonders how many people argued when the United States Government forced people to contribute to Social Security. Despite the growing number of people who consider Social Security to be a Ponzi scheme, many now rely on it. The fact remains the United States Government now considers it regular practice to take money from your paycheck to pay someone down the street who is over a certain age. The United States Government promises to do the same for you when you reach that age. Government sanctioned theft was fought when it reached the United States Supreme Court in 1937. Ken Schortgen, another Examiner points out:
In the now famous Helvering v. Davis Supreme Court case, which centered on the governments right to impose a tax on businesses that was not strictly enumerated in the Constitution as a power granted to Congress, the IRS intervened to stand in for the Edison Electric Illuminating company against a shareholder who argued that the government did not have the power granted to take equity from a business, thus affecting his shareholder value.
On May 24th, 1937, the Supreme Court ruled on Helvering and two other cases and for the first time, soldified the power of the Federal government to impose legislation and taxation on businesses and individuals under the Constitutional umbrella of providing for the ‘General Welfare’ of the citizenry.
In other words:
These three rulings, with Helvering v. Davis primarily leading the way, opened the door for future Federal government mandates upon states, businesses, and individuals under the guise of providing for the general welfare. The court implied that only the Federal government, and not the states themselves, have the capacity to take care of the citizenry as a whole in providing widespread programs that can be construed as meeting the requirements of the general welfare clause.
Despite rumors that a loss here would be good politically for the Democrats, this health care debate is extremely important on a deeper level. If the United States Government can force you to purchase health care, what else can they force you to purchase for your own good? There is an obesity epidemic and broccoli is healthy…