Is the Health Care Law Unconstitutional?

Can the new health care law withstand court challenges?

Adam Freedman
4-minute read

Secondly, the individual mandate is a relatively novel form of regulation.  Strictly speaking, it doesn’t regulate any form of economic activity; rather, it regulates a form of inactivity--the failure of certain people to buy health insurance. Opponents of the law claim that there is no precedent for the federal government mandating citizens to engage in a particular form of economic activity.

What About the Requirement for Car Insurance as a Mandate?

Supporters of the law point to the requirement that drivers purchase auto insurance as an example of an individual mandate. It’s a fair point, but it doesn’t really address the constitutional issue. That’s because car insurance laws are enacted by state legislatures.  Unlike the US Congress, state legislatures are not subject to the “enumerated powers” doctrine in the US Constitution.

If you’ve been waiting for me to tell you which side is right, I’m sorry to disappoint you, but that’s way above my paygrade! Armies of lawyers will be filing briefs and motions for months – possibly years – to come and eventually, the High Court is sure to weigh in.  Stay tuned!

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About the Author

Adam Freedman

Adam Freedman is a lawyer and a regular contributor to Point of Law and Ricochet. Freedman’s legal commentary has been featured in The New York Times, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, and on Public Radio. He holds degrees from Yale, Oxford, and the University of Chicago. He is the author of The Naked Constitution (2012).