Just 7% Of Americans Agree With Legal Reasoning Behind Governments Regulation Of Economic Activity
The Supreme Court case that opened the door to much of the federal government’s intrusions into the economic marketplace was 1942′s Wickard vs. Filburn. In that case, the court upheld federal restrictions on wheat production (intended to inflate the price of wheat during the Great Depression) arguing that farmer Roscoe Filburn was affecting interstate commerce by growing more wheat than what his government allotment provided for.
It didn’t matter that Filburn’s wheat wasn’t necessarily crossing state lines. For the court it only mattered that some wheat did cross state lines, and that gave the federal government justification to regulate wheat everywhere.
That basic concept is now the legal basis behind everything from federal gun laws to federal health care regulation (the intent of Congress was that Obamacare be legal regulation of interstate commerce, though the Supreme Court upheld it as a tax).
But Rasmussen Reports polled Americans about that legal justification for expansive federal regulation and found that just 7% of respondents agreed with it. That’s startling given, again, just how much federal authority is justified by the legal reasoning established in Wickard and subsequent cases.
The problem as I see it is that Americans aren’t very consistent on issues like this. While they may reject the legal reasoning of Wickard as silly, they may not necessarily reject that reasoning as applied to something like health care if sold on it by the idea that the government would be protecting them from insurance companies (or something like that).
It’s heartening to see such a broad rejection of the premise of expansive regulation of interstate commerce – if Americans reject the idea of the federal government regulating Roscoe Filburn’s wheat why would they support the federal government regulating health care? – but I’m not sure I trust the electorate to apply that reasoning consistently.
There’s far too much knee-jerk, “there oughta be a law” attitude out there for me to believe that.Tags: interstate commerce, obamacare, wickard vs. filburn