MYTH:"Health insurance reform could be unconstitutional…or violate the 10th amendment."We'll set aside for later discussion that Emperor Pelosi chooses to ignore the 5th, 9th, and 14th amendments in her answer. (Not to mention two and half centuries of law protecting property rights and the right of voluntary trade. So do most so-called representatives these days; we'll pass by that for now.) Instead, let's just take her argument on its own terms.
FACT: As with Medicare and Medicaid, the federal government has the Constitutional power to reform our health care system.
The 10th amendment to the U.S. Constitution states that the powers not delegated to the federal government by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states… or to the people.
But the Constitution gives Congress broad power to regulate activities that have an effect on interstate commerce. Congress has used this authority to regulate many aspects of American life [note: Boy, is she ever right about that!], from labor relations to education to health care to agricultural production. Since virtually every aspect of the heath care system has an effect on interstate commerce, the power of Congress to regulate health care is essentially unlimited.
On this basis, there is absolutely no limitation whatever on anything Congress chooses to legislate, and Pelosi admits as much in the end. Yes, I know, I know. But while this totalitarianism is a sad fact of contemporary political practice, it doesn't make her argument sound. Madison wrote about this on many occasions, saying for example:
"Government is instituted to protect property of every sort; as well that which lies in the various rights of individuals, as that which the term particularly expresses. This being the end of government, that alone is a just government, which impartially secures to every man, whatever is his own...Further, Jefferson wrote, on Constitutional limits: "Congress has not unlimited powers to provide for the general welfare, but only those specifically enumerated."
That is not a just government, nor is property secure under it, where the property which a man has in his personal safety and personal liberty, is violated by arbitrary seizures of one class of citizens for the service of the rest...
That is not a just government, nor is property secure under it, where arbitrary restrictions, exemptions, and monopolies deny to part of its citizens that free use of their faculties, and free choice of their occupations, which not only constitute their property in the general sense of the word; but are the means of acquiring property so called...
A just security to property is not afforded by that government, under unequal taxes oppress one species of property and reward other species: where arbitrary taxes invade the domestic sanctuaries of the rich, and excessive taxes grind the faces of the poor...
If the United States mean to obtain or deserve the full praise due to wise and just government, they will equally respect the rights of property, and the property in rights: they will rival the government that most sacredly guards the former; and by repelling its example in violating the latter, will make themselves a pattern to that and all other governments." -James Madison, "Property", National Gazette
With respect to the Commerce Clause on which so much of Congressional mischief* has relied for a century, Madison explains in Federalist No. 42 this:
A very material object of this power was the relief of the States which import and export through other States, from the improper contributions levied on them by the latter.In short, the meaning of the clause as used in the Constitution is the very opposite of what Pelosi and her ilk want to believe (and want even more for you to believe). It's purpose was to prevent the States from interfering with free trade or rigging the game by passing State-specific, State-advantageous import/export duties. It was not to allow the Federal government, Mafia-like, to simply takeover the whole racket.
Were these at liberty to regulate the trade between State and State, it must be foreseen that ways would be found out, to load the articles of import and export, during the passage through their jurisdiction, with duties which would fall on the makers of the latter, and the consumers of the former.
We may be assured by past experience, that such a practice would be introduced by future contrivances; and both by that and a common knowledge of human affairs, that it would nourish unceasing animosities, and not improbably terminate in serious interruptions of the public tranquility.
Pelosi does admit that the Constitution limits the omnipotence of our Federal masters in at least one way:
The 10th amendment does place one significant limit on Congress and the federal government: Congress cannot “commandeer” state officials to administer programs. It must get the consent of state officials who are asked, e.g., to run health programs for the poor or to help build highways. Typically, Congress obtains that consent by providing financial support to the state...In other words, they can't outright enslave State officials, but they can bribe them into doing the Feds' dirty work for them. Whew, how's that for safeguarding your liberty? Feel better, now?
So far, it will surprise no one who has been paying attention the past two generations, the Supreme Court has said nary a peep about the proposed rape of the health-care-related business owners and those who trade with them. Don't expect that discussion, much less a ruling, anytime soon. Most of them are taking their cues these days from the Pelosi(s) of the world.
*"In 1942's Wickard v. Filburn, the court held that the Commerce Power was broad enough to penalize a farmer growing wheat for his own consumption on his own farm." [ibid, Healy at the Washington Examiner.]