A news service for the people of Michigan from the Mackinac Center for Public Policy

Just how much power Congress has to regulate commerce is at the core of the Thomas More Law Center's lawsuit against President Barack Obama's health care legislation.

The Commerce Clause is listed in the U.S. Constitution and gives Congress the power to regulate interstate commerce. Just how expansive those rights are is an argument in the battle over the health care law.

The dispute revolves around the individual mandate of the health care plan that states every U.S. citizen would have to have health insurance. The Thomas More Law Center believes this violates the commerce clause of the Constitution.

"I think Congress' grab of power under the commerce clause is without precedent," said Robert Muise, senior trial counsel at the Thomas More Law Center. "If they have this power, then we no longer have a Constitution that places limits on our national government. This transcends health care. It goes to the core of the structure of our constitutional republic."

The Thomas More Law Center recently filed a brief in support of their motion for a preliminary injunction against the health care legislation.

Muise said the federal judge asked for a shorter filing, and he re-filed today.

"Our lengthy and detailed reply to the government's defense of the Health Care Reform Act demonstrates the weakness of the government's superficial arguments," Muise said in a press release. "As evidenced in our brief, we certainly like our chances that the court will strike down this unconstitutional act of Congress."

The federal government's reply to the Thomas More Law Center's charges stated:

  • It's premature to claim damages until the health care law starts in 2014. The four plaintiffs are challenging the law four years before it starts and are speculating whether the law will harm them.
  • The health insurance mandate is a valid exercise of Congress's power to regulate interstate commerce.
  • Apart from its power under the commerce clause, Congress has the power to tax and spend to "provide for the ... general welfare."

St. Lawrence University economist Steven Horwitz discusses how the minimum wage was used to block immigrants from taking scarce jobs during the depression era. See more at "Raising the Minimum Wage, Lowering Opportunity."


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