The Instigator
TheTrueReality
Con (against)
Tied
0 Points
The Contender
nickgb
Pro (for)
Tied
0 Points

The Constitutionality of the Individual Mandate in the Affordable Care Act

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/24/2012 Category: Health
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 864 times Debate No: 23811
Debate Rounds (4)
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TheTrueReality

Con

Here's a new debate topic.

The individual mandate at the heart of the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional

* It violates the Commerce Clause's traditional understanding
* It imposes universal mandate on every American, whereas in the past, no mandate has ever been that broad and sweeping
* It is a mandate in favor of purchasing a private good and compelling others to buy a private good, often in a situation where monopolies exist state by state
* It fundamentally restricts the American freedom to purchase what we want, free from government direction
nickgb

Pro

I accept and look forward to debating you.
Debate Round No. 1
TheTrueReality

Con

TheTrueReality forfeited this round.
nickgb

Pro

Not sure what happened here? I'll give you another chance to respond.
Debate Round No. 2
TheTrueReality

Con

The individual mandate is unconstitutional. The basis for the individual mandate is based on the reading of the Commerce Clause, which states explicitly "The Congress shall have the power to regulate commerce with Foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian tribes."

For more than a hundred years, until Wickard v. Fillburn, 1942, the understanding of interstate commerce rested on the understanding that the federal government regulated commerce between the states, not within the states. Wickard v. Filburn (1942) changed that dramatically but I argue that for several reasons, the individual mandate should not be upheld.

One, I disagree with the holdings in Wickard in arguing that the states should be allowed to regulate economic matters within their own borders and that the Fedreal Government should return to regulating commerce between the states, not within the states. This would obviously hold the individual mandate unconstitutional for prima facie grounds.

Secondly, under United States v. Morrison (2000) and United States v. Lopez (1994), the Supreme Court struck down (rightfully) laws that related to gun control and violence against women. Both laws had used the commerce clause to justify themselves as within the purview of economic matters; the Justices (well, five of them) disagreed.

I argue that under this rubric of understanding, health care cannot be considered economic within nature. To justify it as economic in nature is to give a very broad definition to what is economic in nature. Buying candy is an economic matter; should it be so that the federal government should be empowered to mandate that I buy Hershey bars? Of course not and health care shouldn't be similarly considered economic in nature.

Returning to the constitutionality issue, such a mandate would be unconstitutional because nowhere in the Constitution does it indicate that the federal government should be allowed to create such a mandate. Given Paper 51, of the Federalist Papers, settling the separation of powers between the Federal Government and the States, it is unlikely that the Commerce Clause as envisioned ever was designed to give the federal government a mandate to require all citizens, regardless of prior conditions, to fulfill a mandate to purchase a good (a private good, at that). Ultimately, this mandate would not even be for economic purposes, because to state that health care is an economic good is to virtually acknowledge that almost anything else could be an economic good and could be under a government mandate as a result.

Some argue that political intervention would override my objections, but as we've seen, this is patently not a good reason to institute a mandate. A mandate today for health care purchases could easily become a mandate for another necessary good that government decides is necessary for the welfare of the citizenry. Such a notion is not so farfetched.

Thank you.
nickgb

Pro

nickgb forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
TheTrueReality

Con

TheTrueReality forfeited this round.
nickgb

Pro

nickgb forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
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