Rep. John Lewis Says Declaration’s ‘Pursuit of Happiness’ Language and 14th Amendment Authorize Congress to Force People to Buy Health Insurance

January 21, 2011

By Nicholas Ballasy

( -Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) said on Tuesday that the government should require individuals to buy health insurance and cited the Preamble to the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence’s “pursuit of happiness” language and the 14th Amendment as the sources of Congress’ authority to enact such a mandate.

“I think people should be required to get health insurance. We require people to get insurance for their automobile state by state but the federal government has an obligation to encourage by law, moral persuasion, to get people to get health insurance,” Lewis told on Tuesday after a House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee hearing in opposition to Republican efforts to repeal the health-care law enacted last year.

One of the primary complaints Republicans have had about the health-care law is that it forces individuals to buy health insurance, which entails a power that many Republicans argue the Constitution does not give to Congress. Currently, 27 states are suing the federal government, arguing that the health-care law is in fact unconstitutional. also asked Lewis what part of the Constitution gives Congress the authority to require individuals to buy health insurance.

“Well, when you start off with the Preamble of the Constitution, you talk about the pursuit of happiness,” said Lewis. “You go to the 14th Amendment–it’s equal protection under the law and we have not repealed the 14th Amendment. People have a right to have health care. It’s not a privilege but a right.”

The Preamble of the Constitution states, “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.”

The Declaration of Independence says, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

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1 Comment - what are your thoughts?

  • Therese, New Jersey says:

    That is a real stretch to say that the Constitution implies that the Congress can mandate Healthcare. Some representatives in Congress are reading what they would like to into the Constitution and The Declaration of Independence. Our government has done a “Wonderful job with Medicare and Social Security” so lets just let them handle and dictate every aspect of our lives, including healthcare. Some people, no matter how much education they have, do not have any common sense. Another gov’t run program that they can run into the ground and the country with it. Wake up people! Let’s vote these progressive idiots out! And they are not all Republicans. Look at what they stand for and how they vote on issues.Let’s take our country back!!!

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