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Question To Nancy Pelosi: Where In The Constitution Is ObamaCare Authorized ? A: Are You Serious ?

The Speaker of the House demonstrates her contempt for the Constitution of the United States:

( – When asked House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Thursday where the Constitution authorized Congress to order Americans to buy health insurance–a mandate included in both the House and Senate versions of the health care bill–Pelosi dismissed the question by saying: “Are you serious? Are you serious?”


The exchange with Speaker Pelosi on Thursday occurred as follows: “Madam Speaker, where specifically does the Constitution grant Congress the authority to enact an individual health insurance mandate?”

Pelosi: “Are you serious? Are you serious?” “Yes, yes I am.”

Pelosi then shook her head before taking a question from another reporter. Her press spokesman, Nadeam Elshami, then told that asking the speaker of the House where the Constitution authorized Congress to mandated that individual Americans buy health insurance as not a “serious question.”

“You can put this on the record,” said Elshami. “That is not a serious question. That is not a serious question.”


Later, Pelosi’s spokesman came back with the lamest of all responses:

Pelosi’s press secretary later responded to written follow-up questions from by emailing a press release on the “Constitutionality of Health Insurance Reform,” that argues that Congress derives the authority to mandate that people purchase health insurance from its constitutional power to regulate interstate commerce.

Of course, when you look at what the Founders actually intended the Interstate Commerce Clause to do, it’s fairly clear that Pelosi is wrong.

Consider for example, Federalist No. 22 , where Alexander  Hamilton noted the primary reason that the Founders were giving the power to regulate Interstate Commerce to Congress:

The interfering…regulations of some States…have… given just cause of…complaint to others, and…if not restrained by a national control, would be multiplied… till they became…serious sources of animosity and… impediments to the intercourse between the different parts of the Confederacy. “The commerce of the German empire…is in continual trammels from the multiplicity of…duties which the several princes and states exact upon the merchandises passing through their territories, by means of which the…navigable rivers [of]…Germany…are rendered almost useless.” Though the…people of this country might never permit this…to be…applicable to us, yet we may…expect, from the…conflicts of State regulations, that the citizens of each would…come to be…treated by the others in no better light…

In Federalist No. 42, James Madison made the same argument:

…A very material object of this power [to regulate commerce] was the relief of the States which import and export through other States, from the improper contributions levied on them by the latter. Were these at liberty to regulate the trade between State and State…ways would be found out to load the articles of import and export, during the passage through their jurisdiction, with duties which would fall on the makers of the latter and the consumers of the former…

Similar arguments are also made in Federalist Nos. 44 and 56 and in Madison’s Records of the Convention of 1787.

Over time, of course, that original meaning and intent of  the Commerce Clause have been perverted by a Congress wishing to extend it’s authority ever deeper into an American life, and by a compliant Supreme Court.

Under current law, then, the Commerce Clause means something far different from what it was ever intended to mean, and that is one of the major reasons that we live with the Leviathan on the Potomac that we currently have. Just because it’s the law, though, that doesn’t make it right.

Of course, given the contemptuous way she answered the question, I really don’t think Nancy Pelosi cares about that.

22 Responses to “Question To Nancy Pelosi: Where In The Constitution Is ObamaCare Authorized ? A: Are You Serious ?”

  1. The commerce clause arguement is a farce anyway. Congress has made it impossible to buy health insurance across state lines, and now claims that interestate commerce is why the can force me to buy it?

  2. Terry Kinder says:

    It’s not surprising that Pelosi would think that asking where in the Constitution is the authority for Obama’s Health Care Reform idea granted is a ridiculous question.

    It is because of out of control government that I started Take The State – – to fight for liberty, freedom at the state, local level.

    It’s vitally important for the state legislatures and other state officials to defend the rights of the people under the 10th Amendment. Strong states, standing in opposition to the national government, can make a difference.

    In addition we need to repeal the 16th Amendment (Income Taxes) and the repeal or repudiate the 17th Amendment (Direct Election of Senators). Doing these two things would help break the lock of special interests and government overreaching. We must demand limited, Constitutional government and a return to our original system of federalism that used opposing interests to defend the rights of the people.

    Please join our effort.

  3. tfr says:

    Yah, any time Congress says the Constitutional justification for their activity is “interstate commerce”, that means “there isn’t any”. It’s kind of like resisting arrest or disorderly conduct, but on a grander scale.

  4. Vast says:

    One could argue that the patchwork of state based health care regulations has caused an impediment to the ability of buying insurance across state lines. I might be wrong but isn’t part of the reason that the state line barrier is in place is becuase allowing it to be national deprives the states the right to regulate the health care industries withing their respective states?

  5. Vast,

    But if you look at what the Interstate Commerce Clause was originally intended to combat — which was the fact that the 13 colonies were each enacting their own laws which made it impossible for a business in NY to deal with someone in, say, Virginai — that ought be considered unconstitutional

  6. [...] Below The Beltway » Blog Archive » Question To Nancy Pelosi: Where In The Constitution Is ObamaCar…by Doug Mataconis @ 12:38 pm on October 23, 2009.The Speaker of the House demonstrates her contempt [...]

  7. Vast says:

    Do you agree that the states have the right to regulate health care themselves?

  8. Vast says:

    Why would anyone want to repeal the ability of the people to elect senators?

    A better solution would be to set term limits for both houses of congress.

  9. Because the Senate was not originally intended to be a body reflecting the popular will.

    And, honestly, I think the Founders had the right idea

  10. Then we get into the issue of natural rights.

    So, no.

  11. Vast says:

    I’m not in favor of any changes that take away the ability of the people to have a say in who represents them in both houses of congress. Also we would end up going back to a system that was obviously flawed as it ended up causing states to often have no senatorial representation at all due to partisanship and bickering within the state legislatures. Just look at what happened in NY this summer. Do you really think that the state legislature in NY is the right body to be determining who represents NY in the senate?

    As for regulating health care, there has to be some sort of regulation, if you leave it all up to the insurance companies then half of Americans would never even get to see a doctor unless they had cash with them as they walked in the door.

  12. EJ says:

    “if you leave it all up to the insurance companies then half of Americans would never even get to see a doctor unless they had cash with them as they walked in the door.”


    Why do you assume that? Insurance companies are in the business of selling policies. And Insurance companies cant just not pay for various services at will… they are engaged in a contract.

  13. Vast,
    I’m not sure having to have cash on hand when you went in would be bad in most cases. We’d suddenly shop for health services like we do big screen tv’s and cars. We’d actually want to the know the price.

    If most of us had HSA’s and catastrophic care policies my guess is health care costs would plummet. When we started asking “Why is an aspirin $4.45, when I can buy a hundred for that at Walgreens?” someone would have to come up with a reason. It would be easier to drop the price.

  14. charles says:

    everyone hates nancy n her friends cause they suck –straight up

  15. Vast says:

    “Insurance companies are in the business of selling policies. And Insurance companies cant just not pay for various services at will”

    Probably becuase that is what they are doing now.

    “suddenly shop for health services ”

    How do you shop for health services when your having a cardiac arrest or have been involved in a car accident?

  16. Vance says:

    I’m pretty much on the Mataconis side of this disagreement with Vast. Auto insurance is for big problems, not oil changes & the like. Medical insurance covers ear wax removal. If it was set up more like car insurance, then the heart attack example Vast made would not be about shopping for service, but getting your ears cleaned would be. How much does it cost to get a physical or ear wax removed? I don’t know because there is no price for services in my doctor’s office. I submit a “copay”, whatever that is, and get all services for the same amount per visit. That is, well, stupid. There, I’ve said it. Medical costs are allocated in a stupid way and giving control over all costs to the federal government is beyone stupid, it is moronic.

    I work for the federal government and I can say without reservation that it is a shambles, an embarrassment, a sinkhole of waste, fraud, and abuse. And that is in the well-managed agencies.

    If medical coverage went to covering significant events and catastrophic health problems and doctors had to compete with others on price for services, ordinary health costs would go down rapidly. Look at laser surgery for eyes, which insurance does not cover. It used to cost about $5000 for both eyes. You can now find it advertised for $495 per eye.

    In order for a market to work, the true cost has to be evident. If you go in a hospital, as I did for surgery about two months ago, the real costs are hidden is a flurry of paper from the insurance company, the hospital, and the various labs that list a lot of numbers (that are not consistent between the parties) and tell me I have to pay X amount for this test or that procedure. I am not paying the full amount, but I also cannot easily determine what the full amount is.

    If I don’t know what the cost is, how can I judge value? I can’t, and neither can anyone else. Letting the government decide value is going to cripple our economy, which is the apparent goal of the Obama government. Take over finance, health care, & auto making. Set prices & output. Tell people how much they will earn. Raise taxes & accept a high unemployment rate. Yeah, that’s gonna work.

  17. ausdem says:


    i agree with you that the government has no idea of value. look at the pentagon. if there’s a poorly managed sinkhole of an organisation that waste’s the taxpayers money, that has got to be it. rather than spending what is necessary to defend the US of A, they waste it on idiotically stupid wars, corrupt contractors and obscene pie-in-the-sky military programs. it would be horrendously stupid if a government spent huge amounts of money on the military while cutting taxes…….oh

    the problem my friend is that the market NEVER takes into account costs and benefits that are larger than the self. so the costs of poor healthcare are not just to the person, but to society in general, and hence it makes sense for the government to get involved.

  18. Vance says:

    Ausdem, the government is involved. Our problems stem from policy & regulatory decisions made by federal & state governments. People who call themselves ‘progressive’ blame the private sector for the current state of HC and ignore the role the government plays in making the system work this way. This analysis stipulates that the failure of the private sector can only be relieved by the government taking over health care. Insurance companies are greedy, evil, etc. Government is good, moral, and capable.

    I do not quite understand your statement about the “…market NEVER takes into account…” unless this is another way of expressing the idea of externalities. If that is the case, then government involvement, which already exists, can be modified to work on solutions to this matter. John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods, had seven or eight suggestions in the Wall St. Journal that make sense, would reduce costs, and make the entire scheme simpler.

    Nothing gets simpler or cheaper when the government runs it.

  19. Arguments based on the Federalist Papers is an invalid method of argumentation. The founders of this country NEVER planned for ANY notion of “original intent” to be applied to US government in the future. This is nothing more than a conservative fantasy, and simply exposes the intellectual bankruptcy of anyone who resorts to it. Matacosi’s grade: F.

    Most other commentators in this thread also have earned an F. Pelosi’s office is quite correct in stating that the Commerce Clause gives Congress the power it needs to enact health care legislation. Try studying a little Constitutional history before jerking your knees again.

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