pnwmom (38,352 posts)
If a health insurance mandate is unconstitutional, why did George Washington sign one in 1790?
Last edited Fri Jun 15, 2012, 03:35 PM USA/ET - Edit history (3)
Why are conservatives (and even some DUers) saying there has been no precedent for the Supreme Court approving a health insurance mandate?
Because -- while Congress has legislated such mandates in the past -- such a case has never come to the Supreme Court . Because, until recently, no one ever challenged such a mandate. Suddenly, a type of regulation that has existed since the earliest days of our Republic is now claimed to be unconstitutional.
By Einer Elhauge (a professor at Harvard Law School, who joined an amicus brief supporting the constitutionality of the mandate)
If Health Insurance Mandates Are Unconstitutional, Why Did the Founding Fathers Back Them?
In making the legal case against Obamacare’s individual mandate, challengers have argued that the framers of our Constitution would certainly have found such a measure to be unconstitutional. Nevermind that nothing in the text or history of the Constitution’s Commerce Clause indicates that Congress cannot mandate commercial purchases. The framers, challengers have claimed, thought a constitutional ban on purchase mandates was too “obvious” to mention. Their core basis for this claim is that purchase mandates are unprecedented, which they say would not be the case if it was understood this power existed.
But there’s a major problem with this line of argument: It just isn’t true. The founding fathers, it turns out, passed several mandates of their own. In 1790, the very first Congress—which incidentally included 20 framers—passed a law that included a mandate: namely, a requirement that ship owners buy medical insurance for their seamen. This law was then signed by another framer: President George Washington. That’s right, the father of our country had no difficulty imposing a health insurance mandate.