December 23rd, 2009
10:51 AM ET
8 years 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. Terry from West Texas

    There will of course be a lawsuit trying to block the bill that will take a few years to wind its way to the Supreme Court. They might even win. The five Conservative hacks currently sitting on the court have a majority. Those justices certainly don't want anything to hurt insurance company profits. And, they all have terrific insurance so THEY don't have to worry, do they?

    December 23, 2009 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  2. vwrtb

    What about the government restricting abortions or car insurance or restricting the growing of personal marijuana... Republicans are idiots...

    December 23, 2009 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  3. Brett

    So does that mean that all the states that require you to carry auto insurrance have to take those laws off the books too? Am I the only one tired of the republican party? If it was up to them there would only be the super wealthy and the rest of us would be as poor and sick as any one in a third world country.

    December 23, 2009 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  4. stevegee

    This country was founded on freedom and liberty. And this healthcare bill goes against everything the United States stands for.

    If the Democrats pass it, in spite of its unconstitutionality, then they will be reminded that We The People hold all the power!

    December 23, 2009 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  5. Anne

    I am a lifelong Democrat, but Democrats will not have my vote if the Senate health bill passes as it is now written. I thought the push of this administration was to help the middle class. As a middle class union member, I feel that the excise taxes in this bill on my health care will cripple my benefits and earnings.

    December 23, 2009 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  6. Lilarose in Bandon, OR

    Even if this health bill isn't perfect, it is a start.

    It shocks me that half of Congress doesn't care about the health of those of US in America who can't afford any health insurance.

    And that half of Congress is all Republican.

    What are they thinking? Take away all of their and their families' medical insurance until Republicans participate in something to do with positive health care. And don't give them their care back for another year!

    December 23, 2009 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  7. David

    The government mandates how fast we drive our private car, they even mandate the insurance we have to have for our private car or our private home, it's a law. So dear blind and ignorant GOP party, what is the difference?

    December 23, 2009 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  8. Michele

    The Tea Baggers are still at it. Instead of working on ways to improve this bill (and there are many things that need changing) they still want to kill it completely if possible. The way to fight these insane mandates is to CHANGE that portion of the bill, not to question the legality of having health insurance. If the Republicans would stop for a moment and think, there are ways to work WITH Democrats to make this better for the country. Instead they choose to make outlandish claims and further confuse the public. If you can't help, then obstruct. It's getting old, guys.

    December 23, 2009 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  9. Randolph Carter, I'm no expert but....

    Does that mean I don't have to purchase car insurance now? Good, I can save a lot of money that way. Have a nice day!

    December 23, 2009 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  10. Tom

    You got to give the Republicans credit! They will oppose EVERYTHING!

    December 23, 2009 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  11. Duck Fallas

    Ensign is an expert on moral authority.

    December 23, 2009 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  12. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    Why wouldn't it be constitutional? Congress can make laws. I don't see how this would be a violation of any law? If they strike this down because of it being unconstitutional, then there goes the state requirements for auto insurance just as starters. People will be suing each other more and clog the courts. After that, people will be filing bankruptcy for auto problems as well.

    December 23, 2009 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  13. Buckle Down

    Based on my survey of non state run information sites the Death Panels are still in place and still protected by Reid, despite CNN's assertions to the contrary.

    December 23, 2009 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  14. Ex-NC-Pub

    "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": CNN

    Is this the same Ensign that had an affair with his best friends wife and then paid her husband a large sum of hush money? Now tell me why I am suppose to listen to him?
    This is just more Publican crap. What's next; the world is flat and that torture was Thomas Jefferson's favorite past time?

    December 23, 2009 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  15. Ani

    Well no surprise. Anything they can do to put republicans first and Americans whenever. The democrats did the best they could when you figure there are 60 senators who put America first and 40 who put themselves and their party first.

    December 23, 2009 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  16. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    I own a vehicle. I can't drive it without insurance. That's the law. I pay a lot for my insurance, but I pay it cause it's the law. My son crashed said vehicle. Boy was I glad to have insurance.

    I have one body....... really, need I go on?

    December 23, 2009 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  17. Aspen Professor

    Panic panic panic! The Republicans continue on their crash and burn course of action, attempting in any way possible to delay the Health Care Bill which would dramatically reduce the Insurance Company "support" of Republican reelection campaigns.

    What a farce! This Registered Republican is saddened as he watches his Party, now controlled by the right-wing extremist, ultra religious phonies, being flushed down the toilet of history. Remember how we spoke so convincingly about our "Ideals" in 2008? Then, within weeks, the Republican scandals began to surface. Bribes, adultery, hypocrisy, arrogance, blantant lies. Sad sad sad!

    December 23, 2009 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  18. AJP

    You expect this from Republicans.

    Plain and simple they suck!!

    December 23, 2009 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  19. JA/TN

    you boys and girls will not go down without embrassing yourselves, where is your patriotism and christian values, let it be

    December 23, 2009 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  20. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Ensign is fighting for big insurance after paying off the husband of his mistress and getting him a job as a lobbyist, now that's what you call illegal and immoral. He's an immoral rat and needs to crawl back into his whole and by the way, why haven't the Ethics Committee taken care of this guy.

    December 23, 2009 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  21. Babe

    No one questions the madate that everyone who drives a car must have auto insurance or they can't be out on the road. Yet none of these angry GOPers question the "right" to drive a car without insurance. It appears that they will do everything short of throwing themselves in front of a moving bulldozer to kill this bill.

    The rumors about Obama's weakness, cowardice, inability to get anything done must be dispeled by the fact of his slowly but surely working his way through the agenda he outlined before election.

    I do not believe he is ignoring any issue, but multi-tasker though he, no one can do everything at once. I believe he's doing just fine, and that this will be an historic presidency in many repsects. All positive.

    December 23, 2009 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  22. Tim

    If this is true, then now I won't have to pay that pesky mandated car insurance, either. Even more money I get to save.

    December 23, 2009 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  23. mjm

    This bill is a constitutional disgrace. No, the government cannot mandate that you buy health insurance. Just like they CANNOT mandate that you buy auto insurance if you do not drive or own a car.

    The more they dissect this bill, the worse it'll get. That's why they are trying to ram it through. You would think they would want to get it right instead of just get it through.

    The Democrats are going to pass the worse bill in history.

    December 23, 2009 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  24. Bill in Dallas

    I guess the dubious Senator Ensign would not support the draft which was not deemed unconstitutional. Social Security is mandatory now . Do the Republicans just want to stop everything and go back to the 18th Century. I believe they would be in the pecarious position of supporting slavery which is ironic since the abolition of slavery was the reason for the birth of the Republican Party.

    December 23, 2009 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  25. Dan

    It is a false argument to say that those opposed to this version of health care reform are supporters of the status quo. And it is also a false argument to say that anything is better than nothing. Believe me, things can ALWAYS get worse. This bill will unquestionably result in reduced quality of care coupled with higher costs. If that's your idea of change you can believe in, then go right ahead and support this nonesense.

    December 23, 2009 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
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