Morality = Constitutionality?

From reading arguments about the constitutionality of health care reform, I’ve come to the conclusion that people equate morality with constitutionality. The legal arguments they make are really justifications following their own moral compass. When someone says they believe something is unconstitutional, often they mean immoral.

I don’t mean this as a criticism, but perhaps an insight into explaining what people accept or believe to be constitutional or unconstitutional. Often it seems to me that people cherry-pick what they believe is unconstitutional, and I scratch my head trying to figure out the underlying dynamic in their decision process.

Weigh these three issues separately, and ask yourself which ones are constitutional or unconstitutional.

  • Forced to buy health care insurance, or pay a fine, or go to jail.
  • Forced to buy firearms or pay a fine.
  • Forced to buy electricity or move out of your home. (An Arizona woman lived in her car after her home was condemned for lack of electricity.)
  • Forced to buy clothes to wear in public, pay a fine, or go to jail.

My point is it’s rare when someone see all these as equally constitutional or unconstitutional.  A lot of the thought process of deciding the constitutionality of something is based upon a personal moral compass. Most people would say its constitutional to force people to buy clothes, but would probably object to being forced to buy at least one of the other items on the list.

These are just examples of equating moral views with constitutionality. It doesn’t mean there aren’t other valid reasons to find health care reform constitutional/unconstitutional, or that people are incapable of awareness of their own moral objections.

Listening to the debate on health care using constitutional grounds is more akin to playing the board game Monopoly. We might just as well be arguing the house rules for what happens when you land on “free parking,” because the official rules become irrelevant when arguing your own moral values. It might be less confusing if the core moral value behind the positions were debated as opposed to trying to make legal arguments.

I’m not a constitutional scholar and wouldn’t pretend to be able to argue these issues constitutionality. I’m just as guilty in wanting the constitution to match my own morality. My own moral compass wants the constitution to protect the minority from having to buy what the majority is selling, even if it’s not specifically spelled out in the constitution.

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