Rich Tucker
Are you a “Tenther?”

No, that’s not someone who lives in a tent to remain off the grid -- although that may be something we Tenthers will soon consider. No, “the Tenthers are the ones who keep citing the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution every time there is a proposed bill they don’t like, claiming the Constitution prohibits it,” as liberal commentator Alan Colmes explains on his Web site.

Well, get ready, because if the health insurance reform legislation now under consideration in the Senate passes, the Tenth Amendment could be all that stands between Americans and the road to socialized medicine.

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The amendment is direct and clear. “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

It defines the entire reason we have a written Constitution. It hammers home the point that the federal government is one of limited powers. Lawmakers in Washington may only do what the Constitution specifically gives them the power to do -- everything else is reserved to the states or to the people.

This is crucial, because the pending Senate bill, like the House bill that passed earlier this year, would compel all Americans to purchase health insurance or pay a hefty tax. Take a moment to flip through the U.S. Constitution; it doesn’t take long. The whole thing, along with the Declaration of Independence, can fit neatly inside your shirt pocket.

Anyway, you won’t find anything about the federal government being empowered to compel you to buy health insurance. In fact, the Constitution is silent on health issues in general, presumably leaving those personal decisions in the hands of “the people.”

Ah, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has anticipated this line of argument. “The Constitution gives Congress broad power to regulate activities that have an effect on interstate commerce,” she notes in a news release. “Congress has used this authority to regulate many aspects of American life, from labor relations to education to health care to agricultural production. Since virtually every aspect of the heath care system has an effect on interstate commerce, the power of Congress to regulate health care is essentially unlimited.”

Rich Tucker

Rich Tucker is a communications professional and a columnist for