Debate Club

Founding Fathers Would Approve of National Healthcare Policy

By + More

Our Constitution's text and history demonstrate that the national healthcare crisis—in which tens of millions of Americans lack access to quality, affordable care—is the sort of national problem that the framers of our founding charter wanted the federal government to have the power to solve.

Our Constitution was drafted in 1787 "in Order to form a more perfect Union"—both more perfect than the British tyranny against which the Founding generation had revolted and more perfect than the flawed Articles of Confederation under which Americans had lived for a decade since declaring independence. George Washington and the other delegates to the Constitutional Convention shared a conviction that the Constitution must establish a national government of substantial power, in contrast to the extremely weak central government of the Articles, which was so dysfunctional that Washington thought it nearly cost us victory in the Revolutionary War. (George Washington was also apparently fine with government mandates—he signed into law the 1792 Militia Act, which required young men to outfit themselves with a musket, knapsack, and, in some cases, a serviceable horse.)

[See a collection of political cartoons on healthcare.]

Under our enduring Constitution, Congress has the express constitutional authority to regulate interstate commerce—the healthcare industry comprises nearly 20 percent of our nation's economy—and tax and spend for the general welfare, as well as the broad power to pass laws that help execute these specific grants of authority.

Given the Constitution's grant of significant authority to the federal government to act in the interests of the country as a whole, it is no surprise that a majority of the lower court judges who have ruled on the healthcare law have upheld it, including prominent conservative judges. Reagan-appointee Judge Laurence Silberman on the D.C. federal appeals court explained that the attacks on the law have no support "in either the text of the Constitution or Supreme Court precedent." Another conservative appeals court judge, Jeffrey S. Sutton—who clerked for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia—explained that whether you think the law is good policy or not, it clearly passes constitutional muster.

If the Supreme Court Justices are faithful to the Constitution's text and history, principles of federalism, and precedent—including decisions authored or joined by some of the current conservative Justices—the Court should conclude the healthcare law is constitutional.

Elizabeth B. Wydra

About Elizabeth B. Wydra Chief Counsel for the Constitutional Accountability Center

Tags
Obama administration
Supreme Court
health care reform
health care

Other Arguments

#1
2,026 Pts
Much More Than Politics at Stake

No – Much More Than Politics at Stake

Ethan Rome Executive Director of Health Care for America Now

#2
1,951 Pts
Constitution, Court's Precedent on Affordable Care Act's Side

No – Constitution, Court's Precedent on Affordable Care Act's Side

Ian Millhiser Policy Analyst at the Center for American Progress

#3
1,944 Pts
Striking Down the Affordable Care Act Would Be Unconscionable

No – Striking Down the Affordable Care Act Would Be Unconscionable

Ron Pollack Founding Executive Director of Families USA

#5
-1,885 Pts
The Individual Mandate Is Unconstitutional and Corrupt

Yes – The Individual Mandate Is Unconstitutional and Corrupt

Phil Kerpen Vice President for Policy at Americans for Prosperity

#6
-1,921 Pts
Individual Mandate Goes Against Basic Freedom and Liberty

Yes – Individual Mandate Goes Against Basic Freedom and Liberty

Hans A. Von Spakovsky Senior Legal Fellow at the Heritage Foundation

#7
-1,939 Pts
Obamacare Both Unnecessary and Improper

Yes – Obamacare Both Unnecessary and Improper

Trevor Burrus Legal Associate at the Cato Institute

#8
-1,973 Pts
Rick Santorum: Obamacare Means Unlimited Government

Yes – Rick Santorum: Obamacare Means Unlimited Government

Rick Santorum Republican Candidate for President of the United States

You Might Also Like


See More