December 23rd, 2009
10:51 AM ET
7 months ago

GOP challenging constitutionality of health bill mandate

Washington (CNN) – Congressional Republicans plan to mount a last-ditch challenge Wednesday to the health care bill now moving through the Senate, arguing that a key provision is unconstitutional.

Sen. John Ensign, R-Nevada, has claimed the bill's requirement that all Americans purchase coverage is not authorized "by any of the limited enumerated powers granted to the federal government." He also has argued the mandate violates the Fifth Amendment, which states that private property shall not "be taken for public use, without just compensation."

Congress lacks "the legal or moral authority to force this mandate on its citizens," Ensign recently said. "Is it really constitutional for this body to tell all Americans that they must buy health insurance coverage?"

Democrats are expected to defeat Ensign's point of order and pass a motion Wednesday setting the stage for final passage of the sweeping $871 billion measure. A final vote on the bill is currently set for Thursday morning.

Any measure passed by the Senate would still have to be merged with the $1 trillion version approved by the House of Representatives in November.

Democrats hope to have a bill ready for President Barack Obama's signature before the president's State of the Union address early next year.

"Health care reform is not a matter of if," White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Tuesday. "Health care reform now is a matter of when."


Filed under: Health care
soundoff (98 Responses)
  1. katiec

    What will the party of NOthing resort to next?
    They have to realize the American people are sick of their
    political games, disgusted with their quest to destroy any and
    every policy presented and sacrifice of the American people for
    big business
    Their win at any cost, regardless of the circumstances, is as
    evil and unAmerican as they can get.

    December 23, 2009 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  2. Anthony In Miami

    Senator Ensign, please think before you speak. Should your stance win, I must say you would have outsmarted everybody! Because that would make mandatory car insurance laws unconstitutional as well. And how about states who penalize businesses and home owners for not having insurance. According to your stance, all insurance would become unconstitutional to be forced on anyone! You can't have it both ways!

    December 23, 2009 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  3. Beyond Absurd

    If that is the case, then you can take it to court. It is more than a little ironic to hear the perpetrator of this latest GOP attempt to stop health care reform at any cost speak of the concept of "moral authority". The GOP is morally bankrupt and will pay dearly at the polls for its failure to put the country before it own political and financial agenda.

    December 23, 2009 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  4. Sea.gem

    Individual states must ammend their own constitutions to ward off this disaster plan...bring on 2010 elections..time to take Uncle Sam's credit card away from the idiots in power.

    December 23, 2009 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  5. Stacie

    These republicans make me sick! The more the American people hear about the REAL health care bills the more they will realize they've been lied to by the conservative friends of the insurance companies. It is no surprise that the Lie of the Year went to Ms. Sarah Palin for her death panel claim!

    December 23, 2009 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  6. gwen

    I wish the party of NO would sit down and be quiet – where were they when we were spending 1 billion a day in Iraq to better that country – they never once complained about the money spent or the deficit rising – but now that we want to spend money on the American citizens to get health care without going bankrupt and medical insurance for all – now they complain – typical of the party that is for white rich people – everyone else need not apply!! I'm glad the dems got a bill but I'm not happy there is no public option and I hope that can be added down the road.

    December 23, 2009 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  7. Tammy

    I'm not vindictive - but maybe one of these legislators should wind up really ill with no health care benefits - dreams of Scrooge and his wake-up call

    December 23, 2009 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  8. www.circleparkforum.com

    I oppose the individual mandate because the Democrats failed to achieve real health care reform.

    The Democrats now want to force all Americans to become the customers of the private insurers, who care far more about profits than they do about people.

    Forcing us to buy their products, knowing that these private insurers have a history of abuse and waste, without providing a public option or the possibility for a Medicare buy-in as an alternative, is immoral at best.

    December 23, 2009 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  9. P.Y. Los Angeles

    o.k. I understand everything,except one thing.
    Did not we already have prison overpopulation?
    Were did our "Esteemed" members of congress will put all the people Who can't afford paying for this travesty???
    How many more people will file bankruptcy because of this??

    December 23, 2009 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  10. Anonymous

    private property shall not "be taken for public use, without just compensation."

    Nothing is being taken for public use. Your private money is being used to buy private insurance for your personal health care needs. The GOP continues to grasp at straws.

    December 23, 2009 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  11. Dean

    It is obvious that the Democrats are going to force this unpopular bill on everyone. I think the Republicans should all leave today for their Christmas(are we still allowed to use that word?) break and let the 60 vote alone. 60 for and 40 not voting.

    December 23, 2009 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  12. billincalif

    THE END OF DIMRAT'S CONTROL IS NO LONGER A MATTER OF 'IF' BUT "WHEN' .....and we KNOW when that is, 2010! RIP LEMMINGS.

    December 23, 2009 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  13. Durk

    You are not required to have auto insurance by the state because...you are not required to drive! If you don't drive, you don't pay auto insurance...if you don't believe you're going to get sick or injured, you shouldn't have to pay for mandated health insurance

    December 23, 2009 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  14. Tram

    Wait a minute - the GOP used the Constitution to wrap fish in and line the bottom of bird cages with for 8 years! They denied Americans their Constitutional rights. They ignored the very foundation of American law, and now, they're claiming "something" is unConstititutional?

    Uh uh. No way. They lost that right after what they did to America for eight years.

    December 23, 2009 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  15. The Voice

    I thought his name was Senator John "Insane"!

    December 23, 2009 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  16. Randolph Carter, I'm no expert but....

    Henry Miller, Libertarian,
    precisely why we should dismantle the interstate highway system and end all government subsidies to farming, coal and medical research. None of that is in the constitution either. Have a nice day!

    December 23, 2009 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  17. MsDp

    My question: Was it constitutional when the republician party force the elderly population to purchase an additional private insurance policy to go along with their Medicare? Will somebody please tell me how this is different, please!!!!

    December 23, 2009 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  18. WHAT???????????

    I am not an expert on the Constitution....but...does it say that the government shall not require citizens to purchase health insurance or automobile insurance or home insurance or a drivers license or a business license???? I don't think so...

    If they can't make their argument using religion, they will try to make it with the constitution..... We could reduce the deficit by taking away their salaries for the year they have been "saying no" instead of working for their constituents, which by the way, is what they are paid to do.

    December 23, 2009 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  19. Four and The Door

    This is an interesting point that really does need to be answered and answered before they pass a $1 trillion program based on assuming it's okay. Is it really justifiable to require that every citizen have a health care insurance policy? If you say," ..but everyone needs it." I disagree. What about someone who has enough of their own money or other means to handle their health care without a policy? I'm not saying I have all of the answers, I'm just saying the question exists. That's the point.

    December 23, 2009 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  20. Bob in VA

    I hear that John Ensign's nickname is "Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr" on account of his deep understanding of constitutional law.

    NOT!

    December 23, 2009 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  21. Minnesotan

    It's amazing what despicable acts the Republicans will go to in preventing any help for the American people. They're just amoral in praying for the continued suffering and lack of affordable health care for our citizens.

    December 23, 2009 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  22. patNY

    Ummmm....he may be right! That's scary!

    December 23, 2009 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  23. I am the flacid and powerless wizard of Rush

    Hello, Commerce Clause anyone?
    If only CNN would explain that the republicans made the same Constitutional 5th &10th amendment challenges against FDR's New Deal programs, Social Security and Medicare.
    And guess what? Those federal goverment programs were found constitutional under the Commerce Clause. Health Care will, too.

    Cheers!

    December 23, 2009 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
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