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Why is This Question So Hard to Answer?

The colloquy last Sunday on ABC, in which neither Time’s editor-in-chief (who authored its cover story on the Constitution) nor professors from Harvard and Georgetown could answer George Will’s question — Can Congress require obese people to join Weight Watchers? — was not the first time the question had been asked and non-answered.

During Elena Kagan’s confirmation hearing, Senator Coburn asked if Congress could require Americans to eat fruit and vegetables every day. Kagan said courts cannot strike down laws just because they’re dumb, producing this exchange:

COBURN: Well, I guess the question I am asking is: Do we have the power to tell people what they have to eat every day?

KAGAN: [long pause], Senator Coburn, [pause], um, [pause], I, I –

The inability of editors, professors, and Supreme Court nominees to articulate a limit on the individual mandate suggests there isn’t one, not a legal one, nor (once it becomes part of constitutional law) a logical one either. See “ObamaCare, ObamaCars, and Government-Mandated Broccoli” at Pajamas Media today. When the Supreme Court eventually considers ObamaCare, perhaps it will recall Justice Brandeis’s famous warning: “Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the government’s purposes are beneficent.”



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