Government Health Care and the Constitution

 constitution signing




“No powers can be exercised by the Congress which are prohibited by the Constitution or which are contrary to its spirit.”  ~ Justice John McLean, Dred Scott v. Sandford, 1857

 Want to understand why government health care is not Constitutional in the United States?  Chelsea Schilling’s article “‘Obamacare:’ What does the Constitution have to say?” explains the straightforward details outlining the un-Constitutionality of government health care.  In her article, she tackles and explains how government health care legislation is contrary to specifically listed enumerated powers, the “necessary and proper” clause, the “general welfare” stipulation, and the “Equal Protection Clause” of the 14th Amendment. 

Here, I’ve included excerpts from her article… but I recommend reading it in its entirety:

Michael Boldin, founder of The Tenth Amendment Center, told WND that if citizens want to understand whether health care is constitutional, they must first understand the function of the Constitution.

“The best way to look at it is that it doesn’t apply to you,” he said. “It doesn’t apply to me. It doesn’t apply to any person at all. It applies to the government, and it sets the boundaries of what government is supposed to do.”


In debating whether health care is constitutional, Boldin said citizens must look to the founding document to 1) determine whether the power is specifically listed there, or 2) if there isn’t a specific power listed, look to the “Necessary and Proper Clause,” or Article I, Section 8, clause 18.

Article I, Section 8, specifically lists the following powers granted to Congress:

  • The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;
  • To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof

Boldin said the last power, dubbed the “Necessary and Proper Clause,” does not grant the federal government unlimited authority, but gives it some leeway for certain things – only as long as those actions apply directly to the Constitution’s specifically enumerated powers.

Boldin continued, “When you think of what is necessary and proper to carry out a specifically listed or enumerated power, it has to meet two criteria: It has to be directly applicable, and it also has to be lesser than the enumerated power.”


‘General welfare’

 Some critics point to the “general welfare” stipulation in Clause 1 as a key provision granting the federal government the authority to regulate health care. However, in The Federalist No. 41, James Madison, the “Father of the Constitution,” argued that “general welfare” in Clause 1 does not give the federal government unlimited power, rendering each of the following clauses redundant.

Madison asked rhetorically, “For what purpose could the enumeration of particular powers be inserted, if these and all others were meant to be included in the preceding general power?

He continued, “Nothing is more natural nor more common than first to use a general phrase, and then to explain and qualify it by a recital of particulars.”

Madison sought to address concerns of critics who warned that the “general welfare” clause opened the door to unlimited abuse.

“The Federalist Papers were public arguments to try to convince people to ratify the Constitution,” Boldin said. “They weren’t just writing about the general welfare clause for the hell of it. There was a real concern by people who were opposed to the Constitution that the general welfare clause would give this unlimited power to the federal government to do whatever it claimed would ‘support the general welfare.'”

Referencing the “general welfare” concerns, Madison even accused critics of “labour[ing] for objections” by “stooping to such a misconstruction.”

“It wasn’t just the opponents of the Constitution saying there had to be limits to this,” Boldin noted. “It was the proponents of the Constitution who were saying, in order for it to be general welfare, it must apply to one of the enumerated powers.”

Because the power to regulate each citizen’s medical care is not included among enumerated powers, he said, the federal government does not have the authority to impose a single-payer system.




Furthermore, he cited the 10th Amendment, which states:

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.


‘Equal Protection Clause’ of 14th Amendment

Some proponents of federal health care have argued that every citizen must be treated equally, and the current health care system is an example of gross inequality that runs contrary to principles of the 14th Amendment. They say wealthy people are able to afford and obtain medical treatment while the less fortunate are left to suffer when they are unable to pay for an operation or treatment.

“That argument would lead to a crazy slope where you could say everyone should have the exact same car,” Boldin said. “Then we should have the same guarantee of transportation to get to work, the same guarantee of food and shelter. Should we all have equal homes? I mean, if someone wants to make that argument, they have to make some serious changes to the Constitution to authorize it.”

He said regardless of their political affiliation or position on health care, citizens must ask themselves whether they truly want a government that has no limits.

“No matter what side you are on, you don’t want a government that can do whatever it wants whenever it wants because it becomes dangerous,” Boldin said. “This is what the Founding Fathers and the entire founding generation had to fight against – a king who could set his own rules and make them up as he goes. Rules may not be a wonderful thing, but when you allow government to do whatever it wants, you are guaranteeing tyranny.”


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