John Lewis: “Pursuit Of Happiness” & The 14th Amendment Make Obamacare Constitutional

With today’s (symbolic) vote in the House of Representatives to repeal the Affordable Care Act, we’re once again seeing evidence that our elected officials don’t really understand the Constitution, or don’t care to. Today’s example comes from Congressman John Lewis of Georgia, who came up with what may be the most bizarre argument ever presented in Constitutional Law:

“Well, when you start off with the preamble of the Constitution you talk about the pursuit of happiness. You go to the 14th amendment – it’s equal protection under the law and we have not repealed the 14th amendment.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,” Lewis responded.

The phrase “pursuit of happiness,” of course, comes from the Declaration of Independence, not the Preamble, and has no legal effect in any event. The 14th Amendment argument is simply nonsense.

There are Constitutional arguments in favor this bill. The Department of Justice has made them in four separate cases pending around the country, one would think that a Congressman who has served in office since 1987 would have at least a passing knowledge of them.

FILED UNDER: Law and the Courts, Quick Takes, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. michael reynolds says:

    I believe the “pursuit of happiness” also renders constitutional my plan to kidnap Angelina Jolie, dress her in her old Lara Croft outfit, and keep her prisoner in my basement.

  2. PD Shaw says:

    michael, you only get to pursue happiness, you can’t capture it. At least not in 49 states, and in the 50th only if she’s kin.

  3. Patrick T. McGuire says:

    “… evidence that our elected officials don’t really understand the Constitution,…”

    Sometimes they understand, sometimes they don’t. But all the time they just don’t give a damn.

  4. An Interested Party says:

    Oh well…at least Lewis probably knows the correct spelling of atheist…

  5. athiest hater says:

    maybe he is one

  6. anjin-san says:

    > kidnap Angelina Jolie, dress her in her old Lara Croft outfit, and keep her prisoner in my basement

    I have similar plans for Ashley Judd & that Buffy the Vampire Slayer chick. Why settle for one when you can have two? Don’t know about the Laura Croft outfit. Some kind of Catholic school outfit might work. Gotta love pleated skirts…