Image: BAR Photography under CC 3.0
One of the main arguments against the legality of healthcare reform is the contention that it is unconstitutional. Many opponents believe that the individual health insurance mandate, in particular, violates the 10th Amendment. That amendment says that all rights not specifically given to the federal government in the Constitution or its amendments are left to each state.
However, a competing interpretation–accepted by some conservative justices, no less–states that at times, the national government can exercise powers not expressly mentioned in the document. A recent Supreme Court decision (approved by seven out of the nine members) upheld the federal government’s right to indefinitely detain sex offenders after serving their sentences. Surely, the specifics of ankle monitoring or house arrest for child molesters and others were not on the founding fathers’ minds.
Granted, U.S. vs. Comstock is relatively less controversial an issue than affordable health insurance reform. Still, it’s a sign that the highest court is willing to consider the application of the “elastic clause”, which states that the federal government is allowed to pass laws to help it execute the powers it was expressly given.