Judge Andrew Napolitano has a great piece in the Wall Street Journal that details the awkward relationship that Congress has with the Commerce Clause (and the Constitution for that matter). Congress has used the Commerce Clause to justify all manner of ridiculous federal intrusion into individual lives and yet, as Napolitano writes:
The same Congress that wants to tell family farmers what to grow in their backyards has declined “to keep regular” the commercial sale of insurance policies. It has permitted all 50 states to erect the type of barriers that the Commerce Clause was written precisely to tear down. Insurers are barred from selling policies to people in another state.
That’s right: Congress refuses to keep commerce regular when the commercial activity is the sale of insurance, but claims it can regulate the removal of a person’s appendix because that constitutes interstate commerce.
What we have here is raw abuse of power by the federal government for political purposes. The president and his colleagues want to reward their supporters with “free” health care that the rest of us will end up paying for. Their only restraint on their exercise of Commerce Clause power is whatever they can get away with. They aren’t upholding the Constitution-they are evading it.
If Congress and the President are really serious about wanting to making health insurance more affordable and readily available to the American people, then legislation to tear down barriers to interstate commerce would be a great first step…. but don’t count on it.