Argument: Not buying insurance is no transaction; no commerce clause authority

Issue Report: Constitutionality of US health insurance mandates


David B. Rivkin. The Federalist Society Online Debate Series: Individual Health Care Insurance Mandate Debate. November 3, 2009 November 6th, 2009: “There is no doubt that Congress can regulate an entire array of economic activities, large and small, inter- and intra-state. Thus, for example, there is no problem, Constitution-wise with having Congress regulate health care insurance purchase transactions. The problem with an individual insurance purchase mandate, however, is that it does not regulate any transactions at all. It regulates human beings, simply because they exist, and orders them to engage in certain types of economic transactions.”

Peter Urbanowicz and Dennis G. Smith. “Constitutional implications of an ‘individual mandate'” Federalist Society: “While most health care insurers and health care providers may engage in interstate commerce and may be regulated accordingly under the Commerce Clause, it is a different matter to find a basis for imposing Commerce Clause related regulation on an individual who chooses not to undertake a commercial transaction. The decision not to engage in affirmative conduct is arguably distinguishable from cases in which Commerce Clause regulatory authority was recognized over intra-state activity: growing wheat (Wickard v. Filmore)12 or, more recently, growing marijuana (Gonzales v. Raich).13 Reliance on the Commerce Clause to justify the constitutionality of an individual mandate might be susceptible to an “as applied” challenge from individuals who (1) never access the health care system or (2) are able to pay for their health care without using insurance, because the government could not claim an impact on interstate commerce of providers and insurers as a result of uncompensated care.”