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. gt

    YA THINK!!! what a scam on the american tax payers ,, Reid is the biggest crook ever

    December 23, 2009 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  2. Mr Joshua

    The Republicans are right Health care is NOT a right I never saw that in the Bill Of Rights Nor can the Government mandate this on the people. I Sure bet JFK would love the modern day Democrats. It is shameful and anti American.

    December 23, 2009 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  3. Rickster

    Ensign and the republicans are absolutely correct. This is an unconstitutional mandate which the democrats will overrule because this administration feels that the constitution is just a pesky annoyance but this may yet end up in front of The U.S. Supreme Court.

    December 23, 2009 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  4. Matt

    Thank God we still have some in Congress who care about the Constitution.

    It's obvious Obama and the democrats don't.

    December 23, 2009 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  5. phoenix86

    If Nebraska doesn't have to pay for it, why should the other states? That is unconstitutional in that it puts a State above a federal law.

    Can't wait to see how much more taxpayer dollars it will cost Reid to bankrupt this country.

    December 23, 2009 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  6. No Longer Hopeful in America

    The GOP is pathetic. I am not real happy with the bill...but watching as these Republicans enage in such destructive conduct as openly urging people to pray for the death of a colleague and using every imaginable strategy to delay after months of lies about death panels, etc...they have demeaned themselves, the system and the country.

    To paraphrase an old quote aimed at one of your ilk (McCarthy) in the 50's "Alas, Republicans, have you NO shame?"

    December 23, 2009 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  7. Phil

    I think it is just tragic how the fools don't realize the passage of this bill is nothing more than a Pyrhhic victory. On paper, the Dems and the President think they have won a major battle. In reality they have further polarized the nation and the elections beginning next year will show that loud and clear. Why wasn't there Tort Reform? Why wasn't interstate competition opened? The Republicans are right in challenging the constitutionality of this bill, as I don't recall the Constitution stating health insurance must be had or you will be fined/taxed.

    December 23, 2009 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  8. Lori

    John Ensign? THAT John Ensign? LOL

    Is his taxpayer funded health insurance constitutional? Is required automobile insurance in some states also unconstitutional?

    Personally, I'd argue that allowing government to defend and support corporations that profit off the illness and deaths of Americans is unconstitutional. Anyone remember Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness? How about being taxed without being represented anymore? My representative doesn't even respond with a form letter. How about being forced to buy products from corporations that historically attempt to refuse legitimate claims?

    I say Congressional Term Limits are the best defense against greedy politicians and their puppetmaster corporations. I'd vote for a constitutional admendment for that!

    December 23, 2009 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  9. michael armstrong sr. TX.

    The democrats had better hope this bill floats because if it don't then future elections will fall in the wake of Jimmy Carter .

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

    So are mandatory FICA payments into Social Security also unconstitutional? How about forcing banks to pay into the FDIC? What about phone customers paying into the USF? And what about the draft? Congress has the power to raise and support an army, but the Constitution says absolutely nothing about requiring anyone to serve in said army. And what about regulating obscenity or indecency on radio and television? I don't see that one, either. I don't even see anything about Congress having the power to set up the Federal Communications Commission to license radio and television stations. And what about the interstate highway system? Congress can regulate interstate commerce, but interstates also connect points within the same state, which affects commerce within that state.

    If Sen. Ensign is such a strict constructionist, where were his complaints about the Bush administration's warrantless wiretaps, classification of U.S. citizens as enemy combatants, and use of signing statements, all of which have been cited as being blatantly unconstitutional?

    Grandstanding, that's all it is.

    December 23, 2009 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  11. Jack Fl

    This ought tobe interesting

    December 23, 2009 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  12. Anonymous

    The supreme law of the land -The declaration of independence, very much gives Congress the authority to mandate health care coverage. It's founded on the very same premise Thomas Jefferson made for mandating public education.

    December 23, 2009 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  13. Chris - Denver

    "Is it really constitutional for this body to tell all Americans that they must buy health insurance coverage?"

    Seems it's plenty constitutional for Republicans (and Democrats) to force me to pay for wars I don't want, so what are they complaining about all of a sudden?

    December 23, 2009 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  14. Debbie

    LOL. Out of all the Senators the GOP chose Ensign for this?!

    I can see where Ensign is confused and thinks the 5th amendment of private use and public use cannot be used witthout just compensation...

    For that is just what he did! Private use of another man's public married wife! LOL

    Seriously, out of all the old men in the GOP they couldn't have found someone else to make this complaint!

    I'm expecting to see this on all the late night shows! Too funny!

    December 23, 2009 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  15. Vets4Obama

    violates the Fifth Amendment, which states that private property shall not "be taken for public use, without just compensation."

    1) NOT AUTHORIZED: It is not PROHIBITED in the constitution, by ANY portion there of. It is in fact supported when it comes to protecting the lives of the citizens of the USA. Just as the military is intended to protect the lives and freedom of americans, so will be the Health Care plan. If only things that are expressly GRANTED are allowed, then by all accounts, 90% of what the government does is suddenly unconstitutional (not that I agree with everything it does, but facts are facts). It is must be expressly denied in the constitution, which leads to Moron Ensigns second argument..............

    2) "Fifth Ammendment": In return you are compensated with health insurance, which is key to protecting your life in the event of a disaster (needing medical attention), as well as your dependants. By definition, that is "just compensation'.

    Go Fish.

    December 23, 2009 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  16. Dave

    This administrationa and the last one have thrown the Constitution out of the window. Shame!

    December 23, 2009 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  17. nate from GA

    if you are going to make that argument then why are we forced to buy car insurance?

    December 23, 2009 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  18. Annie, Atlanta

    I, too, have wondered if this mandate is unconstitutional. I understand the need to have everyone in the pool to keep the rates down and the risk spread out, but I have a son who was laid off from a full time job, has gone back to school, and is working part time, with no insurance coverage at all. How is he, and so many others in his income range, going to be able to afford the obscene monthly premiums for decent health care? I can understand a mandate with industry regulation. But that went out the window, so now what? This will be interesting to see play out.

    December 23, 2009 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  19. Sean

    Honestly, I don't think anyone knows the constitution enough to push forward anything. If not, Dick Cheney should have been charged for violating the constitution....

    December 23, 2009 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  20. Shelly

    Where were these idiots when Bush/Cheney were wire tapping citizens and rushing to an unjustifiable war in Iraq? Amnesia has struck the GOP big time....call the Doctor!

    December 23, 2009 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  21. Dave C - NJ

    By that argument, I can drop my car insurace! Woo Hoo!!

    There are at least 50 types of govt mandated insurances, from bars and clubs to snow mobiles. GOP=pathetic.

    December 23, 2009 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  22. Fooled Again

    While the GOP is at it, contest the Constitutionality of their illegal war in Iraq.

    December 23, 2009 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  23. John independent from NY

    Requirement of health insurance is a violation of Civil rights!

    December 23, 2009 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  24. Scott L

    "Job growth shall resume in the spring" – Tim Geithner.

    There's been job growth???

    December 23, 2009 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  25. RDS

    This is so dumb! Neither is car insurance but we have to pay for it that is mandated to! Of all the arguments they could be bringing up they find the dumbest things to go after...ugh!

    December 23, 2009 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
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