Some of you may have heard that Congress passed some kind of health care reform bill. I’m not sure if it’s been discussed much publicly (I don’t watch the cable “news”) â€” in fact, I don’t know a single person who’s read it, so I’m sure they wouldn’t have much of an informed opinion to share. [Note: This is not an invitation to discuss the merits of health care reform â€” there are other places for that.]
One thing that I found interesting in the aftermath of passage was the fact that eleven state attorneys general are filing lawsuits claiming that the new law is unconstitutional before the ink is dry.
Those of us in drug policy reform would only need one word to explain to these attorneys general why their chances lie somewhere between slim and none. That word is:
Their claim is that the federal government doesn’t have Constitutional authority under the commerce clause to require individuals in states to participate in a national health insurance mandate. Well, that may have been true once. That may even have been the intent of the founders.
The Supreme Court ruled 6-3 in Raich that an activity involving purely non-commercial activity entirely contained within a state where that activity was legal (growing a medical marijuana plant and giving it to a sick person for free) somehow affected interstate commerce sufficiently to allow the federal government to interfere.
In light of that decision, it would be pretty hard for them to argue that health insurance didn’t affect interstate commerce, especially since allowing some to opt out would have a direct effect on the cost for others.
I’d love to see Raich reversed, but that’s not going to happen in a court that gives such uncritical deference to the executive and legislative branches. It’s unlikely that the case will even make it to the Supreme Court, but it would be kind of fun if it did, just to watch all the people come out of the woodwork calling for the overturning of Raich.