So the issue is joined, and no doubt with historic consequences for American liberty. For most of the last century, the U.S. Supreme Court interpreted the Constitution’s Commerce Clause as so elastic as to allow any regulation desired by a Congressional majority. Only with the William Rehnquist Court did the Justices begin to rediscover that the Commerce Clause has some limits, as in the Lopez (1995) and Morrison (2000) cases.
In short, it’s about whether we really have a limited federal government, or not. The Commerce Clause has been the root argument for most of the federal expansion of control — over both “evil” corporations, and persons. While some argue that even greater federal power should be exercised over so-called greedy corporations and “rich” people, it is clear that there now is no limit to the governmental grasp that would insulate any individual.
Therefore, while the case is set in the context of the mandatory purchase provision of the health care bill, the real importance will be when the Supreme Court addresses the Commerce Clause and we find out if there is any limit to its use in justifying government intrusion into individual lives. As Judge Hudson writes:
“The unchecked expansion of congressional power to the limits suggested by the Minimum Essential Coverage Provision [the individual mandate] would invite unbridled exercise of federal police powers,” Judge Hudson writes. “At its core, this dispute is not simply about regulating the business of insurance—or crafting a scheme of universal health insurance coverage—it’s about an individual’s right to choose to participate.”