Will feds be able to force Americans to eat broccoli?

Published 1:06 am Sunday, April 1, 2012

Arguments wrapped up Wednesday in a U.S. Supreme Court case that will have tremendous consequences regarding the relationship of the American people and the federal government. The issue: Can the federal government mandate that free Americans must enter the marketplace and purchase a product?

The individual mandate portion of the Affordable Healthcare Act, commonly referred to as Obamacare, could decide the entire bill’s fate. If the nine justices decide that the federal government can indeed force, under threat of financial penalty, Americans to buy health insurance, will it be the end? Once the door is open, what then can the feds tell the people?

Can they dictate what foods are acceptable, as conservative Justice Antonin Scalia asked. “Could you define the market — everybody has to buy food sooner or later, so you define the market as food, therefore, everybody is in the market; therefore, you can make people buy broccoli.”

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The contentious debate has come down as a Republican v. Democrat battle. Republicans argue that the founding document puts limits on the federal government’s powers in regulating what free people can do. The Democrats argue that the greater good will be done if everyone has access to “affordable” health insurance.

We cannot predict what the justices will decide in June. But we are wary of the federal government assuming control of about 15 percent of the American economy.

One thing that is for sure, as Justice Anthony Kennedy said, the proposed bill “changes the relationship of the federal government to the individual in the very fundamental way.”