With the Supreme Court set to hear arguments in the case against Obamacare, Sen. Mike Lee tells Newsmax that the healthcare reform legislation “represents a threat to liberty” and predicts the individual mandate will be declared unconstitutional by a 5 to 4 margin.
The Utah Republican, a former constitutional lawyer, also says President Barack Obama has a “cavalier disregard for the Constitution.”
Sen. Lee clerked for Samuel Alito when the justice was an appeals court judge, and again when Alito was elevated to the Supreme Court. His father, Rex Lee, served as solicitor general in the first Ronald Reagan administration, representing the United States before the Supreme Court.
Lee was elected in 2010 and is the youngest member of the Senate.
In an exclusive interview with Newsmax, Lee commented on House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s statement on Wednesday that Obamacare is like the Declaration of Independence, guaranteeing life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
“I see it quite differently. I see it as a massive usurpation of power by the federal government that it’s never exercised and was never intended to possess,” he says.
“It represents a threat to the individual liberty in America that our founding era documents so carefully protect by splitting up power. This overlooks limitations on Congress’ power and it does so in a very reckless and dangerous manner, and that’s why I’m opposed to it. I hope and I expect that the Supreme Court will find the individual mandate unconstitutional.”
When the Supreme Court begins hearing oral arguments in the states’ challenges to Obamacare on Monday, “they will focus their efforts on the individual mandate challenge of the case, primarily on the fact that Congress doesn’t have authority on this overlap between the commerce laws and the necessary and proper clause,” Lee says.
“To compel individuals to buy something, a specific type of health insurance — never in the past has Congress exercised this power, and without completely obliterating the entire concept of limited enumerated powers at the federal level, [it cannot] be defended as a valid exercise of Congress’ power.”
Asked to predict the outcome of the case in the Supreme Court, Lee tells Newsmax: “What I can tell you is that there are justices on the Supreme Court who believe very strongly in this principle, the concept of limited enumerated powers within the federal government, that there is a difference between state power and federal power.
“All nine justices agree, at least in theory, that the powers of Congress are limited, but there are some who, more than others, have been willing to actually put teeth in that recognition. And that is what this case is about.
“I predict at the end of the day that we will have probably five votes in support of the conclusion that Congress overstepped its boundaries here.
“I think we are likely to have the chief justice [John Roberts], Justice Scalia, Justice Thomas, Justice Alito, and ultimately Justice Kennedy reaching that conclusion. I’m equally confident that Justice Ginsburg, Justice Breyer, Justice Kagan, and Justice Sotomayor are likely to reach the opposite conclusion.
“The greatest risk here is not judicial activism but judicial underactivism, refusal to act where action is necessary. Sometimes it’s necessary for the courts to step in and say the legislative body within our federal government, Congress, is overstepping its boundaries. That’s what we need them to do here.”
Lee has been outspoken in his criticism of Obama’s so-called “recess” appointments, which the senator asserts were unconstitutional.
“This president has shown a cavalier disregard for the Constitution on a number of occasions, and the use of the recess appointment power at a time when the Senate was not, according to its own rules, in recess represents one of the latest episodes of willingness on the part of the White House just to ignore the Constitution,” he says.
“He doesn’t have that power. He took something from the American people. Ours is not a government of one. That power to confirm presidential appointees belongs to the people, and it’s supposed to be exercised by the people’s 100 representatives in the Senate. He took it from them.
“That was wrong, and I intend to continue calling him on the carpet on that.”
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