The most important question before the Supreme Court when Obamacare comes up will be the so-called individual mandate that requires all citizens to buy health insurance, imposing penalties if you fail to make the purchase.

We’ve noted before on Inkwell that if the Supreme Court upholds the mandate the power of the federal government will be extended beyond anything we’ve known in American history.

Ace Ricochet blogger Paul A. Rahe, who holds the Charles O. Lee and Louise K. Lee Chair in the Western Heritage at Hillsdale College, has provided the best explanation I've seen on why the individual mandate is wrong. While I don’t necessarily agree with the professor’s take on various candidates, I believe his thoughts on the mandate are important and want to quote them at some length:

Government exists first and foremost for the sake of our protection. Without it, our lives and our property would not effectively be our own. Government exists also to promote our well-being. For its support, however, taxation is necessary, and we have tacitly agreed that, to be legitimate, these taxes must be passed by our elected representatives.

By our own consent, we give up a certain proportion of our earnings for these purposes.

The money left in our possession, however, is our own — to do with as we please. It is in this that our liberty largely lies. Romneycare and Obamacare, with the individual mandate, changes radically our relationship vis-a-vis the government. The former presupposes that state governments have the right to tell us how we are to spend our own money, and the latter presupposes that the federal government has that right as well. Both measures are tyrannical.

They blur the distinction between public and private and extend the authority of the public over the disposition of that which is primordially private.

This doesn’t have anything to do with how the Commerce Clause is interpreted, a key issue in the Court’s examination of the mandate, but I do hope the justices will read this piece. It shows what is at stake in what will be one of the most important Supreme Court rulings of modern times.

Scott Johnson of Powerline has some interesting observations about the Rahe piece and man versus the state.