A pair of prominent appellate law specialists debated the legality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obama's sweeping health care reform law, at the Federalist Society’s annual National Lawyers Convention Saturday.
At a panel discussion moderated by Georgetown University Law Center professor Nicholas Rosenkranz, Bancroft partner Paul Clement remarked on how the law's individual mandate, which compels citizens to purchase health care insurance or pay a penalty, “creates commerce rather than regulate commerce,” and said the American people have a right to not participate in commerce.
“The defenders of the federal health care act will keep telling you that it is all about health care. That is not true. It is involves health care insurance,” Clement said.
While Clement said that the government’s role is not to create commerce, Harvard Law School professor Laurence Tribe argued there is no philosophical difference between regulating and creating. “This is a policy issue, not a constitutional issue,” he said.
Clement countered that the difference between previous federal policies and Obama's health care act was that people cannot avoid the act.
“If the government can create commerce and force people to buy a certain product, why can’t you force people to buy cars?” Clement said. “What was the point of ‘Cash for Clunckers’ if the government could just force to buy new cars?”