Chief Justice Marshall on The Interstate Commerce Clause
Chief Justice Marshall, the author of Marbury v. Madison and one of the most celebrated and well-respected jurists in American history, would almost certainly have upheld the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate. Marshall favored a very expansive interpretation of interstate commerce clause, the clause that provides the the constitutional authorization for the individual mandate of the Affordable Care Act and almost everything else the federal government does. In Gibbons v. Ogden, Marshall wrote that the power of Congress to regulate interstate commerce
like all others prescribed in the Constitution, is complete in itself, may be exercised to its utmost extent, and acknowledges no limitations other than are prescribed in the Constitution…The wisdom and discretion of Congress, their identity with the people, and the influence which their constituents possess at elections, are in this, as in many other instances…the sole restraints on which [the people] have relied to secure them from its abuse. They are the restraints on which the people must often rely on in all representative governments.
In other words, the Court should uphold any law passed by Congress that has relevance to interstate commerce, so long as it does not violate some other provision of the Constitution. On Marshall’s interpretation of the interstate commerce clause, the Affordable Care Act is completely constitutional. Let’s hope Justice Kennedy shares Marshall’s view on this matter.