March 31, 2011

The Individual Mandate and the Commerce Clause

This Continuing Legal Education course explores the long-standing debate concerning the scope of Congress's authority under the Commerce Clause by examining recent federal court decisions involving the Minimum Essential Coverage Provision (also known as the individual mandate).

Among other enumerated powers, Article 1, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution provides Congress with authority to "regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes." Since 1937, federal courts have issued decisions expanding the scope of what constitutes interstate commerce subject to Congress's legislative authority, but for a few notable exceptions. 

Recent federal district court decisions involving the Minimum Essential Coverage Provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, however, clearly show that the scope of Congress's authority under the Commerce Clause is far from a settled legal question. 

What constitutional guideposts can members of Congress divine from these recent legal developments?
What relevance does it have for this and future Congresses?

Featuring

Randy Barnett, Carmack Waterhouse Professor of Legal Theory, Georgetown University Law Center, explores the legal evolution of Congress's Commerce Clause authority and the key constitutional principles at issue in the Minimum Essential Coverage Provision cases. 

Wesley Russell, Deputy Attorney General, Virginia, provides insights into the courtroom complexities of litigating a case challenging congressional authority under the Commerce Clause.