This continues our series of posts on the various constitutional challenges to the individual mandate, by Tony Cardona, an attorney who is doing some work with New America's health policy program. Read his post about federal authority and taxation here.
“The Congress shall have Power . . . To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution . . .” (U.S. Const., Art. 1, sec. 8, cl. 18)
In their required Contracts courses, first year law students learn “the four corners rule.” It simply means that the language inside the four corners of the contracted document will be the primary source for resolving a dispute. When our Founding Fathers drafted the Constitution, they created a contract with every generation of Americans. The Supreme Court, the interpreters of this contract, look within the four corners of the Constitution to decides whether a federal law -- such as the individual mandate to purchase health insurance -- exceeds the contract’s scope. A federal action -- such as regulating the health insurance market -- doesn’t have to be mentioned specifically in the Constitution, but it does have to relate to a power enumerated in the Constitution.