September 12, 2009

You will need a "government permit to live."

James Taranto:

...Most criticisms of ObamaCare have focused on its cost in terms of money and lives, but it's worth noting that in exchange for spending trillions of dollars in taxpayer money to set up a system that will inevitably ration care, President Obama proposes a fundamental curtailment of your individual freedom.

In his speech to a joint session of Congress last night, the president offered what presumably was meant to sound like an innocuous, or at least reasonable, analogy:
Unless everybody does their part, many of the insurance reforms we seek--especially requiring insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions--just can't be achieved. And that's why under my plan, individuals will be required to carry basic health insurance--just as most states require you to carry auto insurance.
In fact, no state requires individuals to carry auto insurance. The owner of a car, which may be either an individual or a corporate entity, is required to carry insurance as a condition for a government permit allowing the car to be driven on public roads. Individual drivers, of course, are also required to obtain a government license, which requires fulfilling other conditions.

Driving is such a central part of most Americans' lives that the cliché that "driving is a privilege" seems a bit nonsensical. It feels like a right. There even is a constitutional right to travel--an unenumerated one, but one whose existence is not in serious dispute. Yet here is how Justice John Paul Stevens described that right in Saenz v. Roe (1999):
The "right to travel" discussed in our cases embraces at least three different components. It protects the right of a citizen of one State to enter and to leave another State, the right to be treated as a welcome visitor rather than an unfriendly alien when temporarily present in the second State, and, for those travelers who elect to become permanent residents, the right to be treated like other citizens of that State.
The right to travel is not a right to drive, but if a state were to require visitors to provide proof of insurance when arriving by train, plane or bus, on foot, or as a passenger in a private car, this would clearly violate the first two components of the right to travel.

Obama's proposal to coerce all Americans into buying health insurance is even more intrusive than our hypothetical state requirement would be. The ObamaCare mandate would violate not only the right to travel but the right to remain at rest. The implication of the auto-insurance analogy is that the president believes Congress has the authority to require Americans to obtain a government permit to live.... [Thanks to Bookworm]
Posted by John Weidner at September 12, 2009 10:27 AM
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