Can the Federal Government Mandate Health Insurance?

Uploaded by LearnLiberty on 20.06.2012

If Massachusetts can force its citizens to buy health insurance or if other states can
force their citizens to buy car insurance, why can't the federal government force us
all to buy health insurance? Well the answer, from a constitutional perspective, is relatively
straightforward. It's because the federal government is a government of limited and
enumerated powers only. So every time Congress passes a law, it must prove that that law
is based in one of the powers specified in Article 1, Section 8. So with the individual
mandate, for example, that power source is the power to regulate commerce. But when state
legislatures act they're not limited that way.
State legislatures are not governments or legislatures of limited and enumerated powers.
Instead, state legislatures have residual power, or police power is what it's commonly
referred to. And the police power is what it sounds like: it's the power of police.
It allows the state to pass any kind of law it wants in the name of enhancing or protecting
our life, our liberty, our property, perhaps even morality. And it doesn't have to ground
its state laws in any particular enumerated power source.
So state legislatures really have a lot more power than the federal government does. It
was supposed to be that way. That's the message of the 10th Amendment to the Constitution,
which says any power that's not given to the federal government by this Constitution
is reserved to the states respectively or to the people.