While the Health care debate has been coalescing into something along the lines of a question of our patriotism, our compassion as humans, our survival as a nation even…. it bears some thought as to whether our ideals of morality ought always to be our guiding light as to our consensus on what is legal.
For a long time we have devolved into a morality and legality ruled by majority. We intervene in the law process by majority pressure as the rudder of the mainstream media has propelled it. It is not our system, but has become a competition to our system I think.
So this essay in the “Sense of Events” blog raised what I think are some questions worth pondering in our health care debate.
My question is this: Do the limits of the US Constitution actually mean anything here? Where in the text does it grant the Congress the power to take from you and me and give it, as charity, to others?
This is not a question about Congress’s power to tax. It is about its authority to use taxation for purposes not enumerated in the Constitution.
We already know Democrat Sen. Mark Warner’s answer: the Constitution doesn’t grant Congress the authority to pass the healthcare bill before it, but it doesn’t matter because Congress has trampled on the Constitution so long that there’s no reason to stop now.
I am confident that some persons would answer that the Constitution is a “living document.” As best as I can determine, what that means in practice is that its text and enumeration of powers can be ignored in order for the Congress to do what it wants. Occasionally the federal courts, including SCOTUS, hold this tendency in check, but not very well or often. And at least as often, the courts themselves have taken the “living document” approach rather liberally.
My answer is that the Congress has no such authority granted it. If indeed the state of health care is so dire that public monies must be used to pay directly for medical care of some people (and eventually everyone), then let Congress introduce a proposed amendment to the Constitution so the people and states may grant that authority. That Congress has already been paying for such care for decades doesn’t change the question or the principle at stake.
I might even support such an amendment provided there were appropriate checks and balances built into it. Neither the power granted to Congress nor its authority to tax for this or any other purpose can be unlimited.
Like it not, there is no authority in the Constitution giving Congress the power to spend public monies for charitable purpose
–Does Morality Trump Legality?
It is ironic that the right now questions the left on this… albeit with different issues.