I stumbled on an article in the New England Journal of Medicine this morning that discusses the “broccoli defense” against plans to make purchasing of health insurance mandatory in the USA. I think the article is behind a paywall so there’s no point in offering a link, but anyway it’s fundamentally pretty uninteresting. However, it includes a couple of entertaining paragraphs describing prior decisions of the US Congress:
The Supreme Court has held since 1942 that Congress has Commerce Clause power to limit our ability to grow wheat that we consume ourselves and do not sell, reasoning that it suffices that this noncommercial activity encourages a commercial inactivity that in turn affects commerce — because those who grow their own wheat are not buying wheat from others, which reduces commerce in wheat.
Perhaps we will see WoTC lobbying congress to ban homebrew campaigns, since it affects their commerce? Then maybe we’ll have BATF agents raiding every gaming group in the country…
In case you think this might be a weird world war 2-era decision, the article proceeds to inform us that
the Supreme Court explicitly reaffirmed it in 2005, in a case holding that Congress had Commerce Clause power to ban the medicinal use of home-grown marijuana. The decision in that case held that Congress lacked Commerce Clause power only when the regulation was not “economic” in nature. The health insurance mandate is clearly economic — indeed, much more clearly so than the sustained marijuana ban.
Perhaps Big Marijuana lobbied Congress to prevent the hippies’ backyard crops interfering with its international businesses? Or perhaps the Congress has drifted too far from the original intention of the Constitution? Apparently not, because
in 1790, the first Congress, which was packed with framers, required all ship owners to provide medical insurance for seamen; in 1798, Congress also required seamen to buy hospital insurance for themselves. In 1792, Congress enacted a law mandating that all able-bodied citizens obtain a firearm. This history negates any claim that forcing the purchase of insurance or other products is unprecedented or contrary to any possible intention of the framers.
So, it seems that Obamacare is very much in the spirit of the original constitution; and further more, the original version of Charlton Heston’s famous saying must have been “they can put their guns in my cold dead hands.”
Some Americans are worried about congress banning trans-fats, but I think you guys have much bigger worries than that. Congress at any time is constitutionally able to force you to buy broccoli, the world’s worst vegetable. Think on that while you reach for your (freely purchased!) firearm-of-choice…