By ANDREW COCHRAN
WASHINGTON -- "I think it's a violation of the 10th Amendment, and I don't believe the Federal Government has any more authority to regulate health care under the Commerce Clause than it does to regulate liability caps in states under the Commerce Clause."
That was Rep. Ted Poe, conservative Republican who represents the 2nd District of Texas in the U.S. House. On his website, he describes himself as "a leading voice for Texans standing up for conservative principles, reducing the size of the federal government and promoting constitutional and individual liberties." Rep. Poe made these comments during the first part of the House Judiciary Committee's consideration of H.R. 5, which would impose federal limits on lawsuits filed against a very broad range of "health care providers," including nursing homes, hospitals, drug and device companies, and doctors.
Rep. Poe was reacting to Democrats on the committee who questioned whether H.R. 5 violates states' rights. Rep. Poe succinctly posed the issue that I've raised in a host of posts on the excessive use of the Commerce Clause to override unalienable rights protected in the Bill of Rights.
And clearly H.R. 5 does that. That's why Rep. Louis Gohmert, also from Texas, joined Rep. Poe in expressing strong reservations about enacting H.R. 5 without at least limiting its impact to federal courts. Unfortunately, they didn't question assertions by Democrats that imposing federal limits on federal health care lawsuits also infringes on the right to a jury trial for civil suits, which is enumerated in and protected by the 7th Amendment. But at least Rep. Poe raised a red flag. Sadly, the Judiciary Committee approved H.R. 5 over his objections, with just a promise by the committee chairman to add a states' rights amendment to the bill when it reaches the House floor. We'll see.
Real Tea Partiers, Constitutional conservatives, and principled Republicans should insist to their Congressmen that they not enact H.R. 5 or any bill which compromises our rights enumerated in the 7th and 10th Amendments.
By the way, here is the full quote from Rep. Poe, from which I took the sentence above:
"And the concern I have is that one reason, two reasons I opposed the health care bill was I don't believe the Constitution, under the Commerce Clause, allows the Federal Government to control the nation's health care, besides the unconstitutional provision of the individual mandate requirement on Americans, and those are being litigated through our federal courts.
"But now we're being asked to go ahead and control liability throughout the nation and not just in federal courts but in state courts. I have no problem with this amendment applying to state -- federal courts because we're supposed to control the federal courts, but when you go to state court, this bill or the legislation overrides a state constitution that prohibits caps in liability.
"I got problems with that. I think it's a violation of the 10th Amendment, and I don't believe the Federal Government has any more authority to regulate health care under the Commerce Clause than it does to regulate liability caps in states under the Commerce Clause."
Cochran operates a website called The 7th Amendment Advocate. It's goal is to educate the public and policymakers on the centuries-long history of the right enunciated in the 7th Amendment to a jury trial for civil suits, the accelerating erosion of our 7th Amendment rights, and current issues illustrating the problem and need for restoration of the Founders' original intent. It can be found at www.7thamendmentadvocate.org.