Originally posted by me elsewhere on 7/04/2011
In a panel situation George Will asks whether the federal government can force obese people join Weight Watchers. The liberal members of the panel refused to answer the question. They danced around it saying that it is up to the Supreme Court to decide what’s constitutional. An admission on their part that the federal government does not have the authority to mandate participation in Weight Watchers would have left them having to explain why such a mandate was unconstitutional. The Obama administration has claimed that those who lack healthcare insurance drive up healthcare costs and indirectly impact commerce; for this reason they say that the federal government has the authority to order individuals to buy healthcare insurance. But obesity also drives up healthcare costs; following the Obama administration’s reasoning, you are forced to conclude that obesity impacts interstate commerce. Thus the federal government would apparently have the authority to order people to enroll in programs whose goal is to help them to reduce their weight. However, were the liberal members of the panel to agree that the federal government had such authority, people would be outraged because such a level of involvement in people’s lives would widely be regarded as intrusive or even tyrannical.
You can see a video of Will and the other members of the panel here.
By the way, there are members of Congress who claim that they don’t have to consider whether a bill is constitutional, since they say it is the job of the Supreme Court to make that determination. In contrast the Obama administration is on record making their own determinations as to what is constitutional. Recently we’ve seen Holder announce that he will not enforce the Defense of Marriage Act because he deems this legislation to be unconstitutional.