The Congress shall have power to […] regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes…
The Commerce Clause is the Democrats’ go-to constitutional provision to justify whatever they decide government ought to do. When asked where Congress gets the authority to require Americans to buy health insurance, Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA) answered, that she “would assume” it came from the Commerce Clause, since “that’s how Congress legislates all kinds of various programs.”
The truth is that the Commerce Clause was written with a completely different purpose in mind—limiting government meddling in economics, not expanding it. As Timothy Lee of the Center for Individual Freedom explains:
As Alexander Hamilton explained in The Federalist No. 1, the Constitution itself was established to correct the “insufficiency of the existing federal government” – America’s original Articles of Confederation. In The Federalist No. 22, Hamilton detailed one particular manner in which “the defects of the existing federal system … concur in rendering that system altogether unfit for the administration of the affairs of the Union.” Namely, “[t]he interfering and unneighborly regulations of some States” over commerce actively traversing across state lines.
Hamilton illustrated the problem well by way of the German example:
“The commerce of the German empire is in continual trammels from the multiplicity of the duties which the several princes and states exact upon the merchandises passing through their territories, by means of which the fine streams and navigable rivers with which Germany is so happily watered are rendered almost useless. Though the genius of the people of this country might never permit this description to be strictly applicable to us, yet we may reasonably expect, from the gradual conflicts of State regulations, that the citizens of each would at length come to be considered and treated by the others in no better light than that of foreigners and aliens.”
Accordingly, Hamilton explained, our nation would descend into dysfunction without “a superintending authority over the reciprocal trade of confederated States” to ensure that “states shall not lay tolls or customs on bridges, rivers, or passages.” For that reason, the power “to regulate commerce among the several states” was granted to Congress by the new Constitution in Article I, Section 8.
So the purpose for federal regulation of interstate commerce was to ensure that the states would leave interstate commerce relatively unregulated. With that in mind, does it really need to be said that a private citizen’s decision not to engage in purchasing health insurance within a state doesn’t qualify?