(CNSNews.com) – Best-selling author and conservative talk-radio host Mark Levin says that members of Congress who want to force Americans to buy health insurance--as both House and Senate versions of the health care plan would do--are saying "the hell with the Constitution."
Levin, an attorney who served as chief of staff to Atty. Gen. Ed Meese during the Reagan administration, spoke Thursday to thousands of people gathered on Capitol Hill to protest the massive health care reform proposal under consideration in Congress. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) said she organized Thursday’s rally to stop Congress from enacting a health-care reform bill that many Americans oppose.
Both the House and Senate versions of the health-care reform bill would force all individuals who are citizens or legal residents of the United States to buy health insurance or else pay a fine, even though the Congressional Budget Office has reported that the federal government has never before required Americans to buy any good or service. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R.-Utah), a longtime member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, told CNSNews.com recently that this mandate is not constitutionally justifiable and that if Congress can force Americans to buy health insurance "then there's literally nothing the federal government can't force us to do."
CNSNews.com has asked a number of lawmakers as well as White House Spokesman Robert Gibbs about this issue in recent days, receiving varying answers, including statements expressing the belief that it is not a serious question. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D.-Calif.), for example, said to CNSNews.com, "Are you serious? Are you serious?," when she was asked where specifically the Constitution authorizes Congress to force Americans to buy health insurance. In response to the same question, Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D.-Vt.), said, "I mean, there's no question there's authority. Nobody questions that."
When White House Spokesman Gibbs was asked about critics who are questioning the constitutionality of forcing Americans to buy health insurance, he said, "I won't be confused as a constitutional scholar, but I don't believe there's a lot of--I don't believe there's a lot of case law that would demonstrate the veracity of what they're commentating on." Later, Gibbs said he did not know if the White House had done any legal analysis to determine if there was a constitutional basis for mandating that Americans buy insurance.
Sen. Roland Burris (D.-Ill.) cited the part of the Constitution that he said tells Congress "to provide for the health, welfare and the defense of the country” as justification for forcing Americans to buy health insurance. The word "health" appears nowhere in the Constitution, however, and Burris's spokesman later told CNSNews.com that what Burris meant is that the Preamble to the Constitution authorizes Congress to mandate that individuals buy health care. The preamble says: "We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
In his speech at Thursday's rally, Levin focused attention on the way members of Congress have been anwering the question of where Congress derives constitutional authority to do what it intends to do with the health-care reform bill.
"Having ruined the banking system, the auto industry, the housing market, energy production, the education system, having robbed the Social Security trust fund, the Medicare trust fund and the highway trust fund, now they tell us to trust them," said Levin.
"Now they have their sights on the mother of all entitlements," he continued. "They want to control you, they want to control your children, your parents, your doctor, your nurse. ... Now they want to control health care."
"They want to control what kind of insurance you can purchase. They want to control if you can purchase insurance," said Levin. "They want to decide what benefits you can and cannot have. They want to decide how much you're going to pay. And they want to ration care. And the bottom line is, they want to play God and decide who lives and who dies!
"That's pretty scary," said Levin. "And for them, when they're asked, 'Where's your authority under the Constitution?,' they laugh. The hell with the Constitution, they say. The hell with individual liberty and private property. The hell with people who want nothing to do with this, which is most of us."
In introducing Levin, Rep. Michele Bachmann joked about him being willing to leave his “underground bunker” to attend the rally. She also noted that Levin wrote a book setting the stage for what is unfolding right now in Washington: “It informs us of what the true issue is of our time--liberty and tyranny,” Bachmann said.
Levin’s book “Liberty and Tyranny: A Conservative’s Manifesto” has sold more than 1 million copies and was No. 1 on the New York Times bestseller list for three months.