The constitutional literacy of our educated, elite, elected class should cause us to question their educations, elections and, for that matter, class. Just listen to how some of our best and brightest on Capitol Hill answered a question posed by the Cybercast News Service (CNS).
The powers that be got tripped up on the question of the constitutionality of national health care. Here are a few of the responses:
Sen. Mark Warner (D.-Va.) “There is no place in the competition, in the Constitution, there is no place in the Constitution, there is no place in the Constitution, there is no place in the Constitution, there is no place in the Constitution that talks about you ought to have the right to get a telephone, but we have made those choices as a country over the years…The United States Congress passed laws regarding Medicare and Medicaid that became de facto mandatory programs. States all the time require people to have driver’s licenses. I think that this is a bit of a spurious argument that’s being made by some folks.”
Sen. Bob Casey (D.-Pa.) “Well, I don’t know if there’s a specific constitutional provision.”
Sen. Roland Burris (D.-Ill.) “Well, that’s under certainly the laws of the–protect the health, welfare of the country. That’s under the Constitution. We’re not even dealing with any constitutionality here. Should we move in that direction? What does the Constitution say? To provide for the health, welfare and the defense of the country.”
Sen. Jack Reed (D.-R.I.) “Let me see. I would have to check the specific sections. So, I’ll have to get back to you on the specific section. But it is not unusual that the Congress has required individuals to do things, like sign up for the draft.
Sen. Bernard Sanders (I.-Vt.) “Where in the Constitution? Probably the same place that comes Medicare and Medicaid and the CHIP Program and the Veterans Administration, and the health care programs that we’ve been doing for many, many decades.”
Sen. Sherrod Brown (D.-Ohio) “The same part of the Constitution that allows us to have Medicare. When I hear people that think this is a constitutional issue, my first question to them is, ‘Do you want to repeal Medicare?’ And some people, politically, are so extreme in this country that they want to repeal Medicare, and I think they’re dead wrong.”
Sen. Claire McCaskill (D.-Mo.) “Well the — we have all kinds of places where the government has gotten involved with health care and mandating insurance. In most states, the government mandates the buying of car insurance, and I can assure everyone that if anything in this bill is unconstitutional, the Supreme Court will weigh in.”
Sen. Jeff Merkley (D.-Ore.) “The very first enumerated power is power to provide for the common defense and the general welfare. So it’s right on, right on the front end.”
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D.-Calif.) “Well, I would assume it would be in the Commerce clause of the Constitution. That’s how Congress legislates all kinds of various programs.”
Sen. Kent Conrad (D.-N.D.) “No, but I’ll refer you to the legal counsel for the Senate and they’re the ones that lead there as the full legal basis for the individual mandate—and I assume it’s in the Commerce clause.”
Sen. Richard Lugar (R.-Ind.) “I don’t have any idea.”
That’s sort of an all-purpose answer for Sen. Lugar.
Malcolm A. Kline is the Executive Director of Accuracy in Academia .