Whether or not the individual mandate in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) proves to be constitutionally valid, it is based on mistaken premises, faulty economic analysis, short-sighted politics, and seriously flawed health policy. The relationship between the mandate and the problems it purportedly could solve always has been tenuous and contradictory at best. Opponents find the mandate to be constitutionally improper, administratively challenging, politically implausible, and economically unnecessary.
The strongest constitutional law arguments against the PPACA’s individual mandate begin with the essential point that it is unprecedented and not bound by any limiting principle. It seriously threatens the concept that enumerated powers under the Constitution set some limits on the scope of permissible federal authority. The mandate also threatens to encroach on the traditional police powers reserved for state governments and may or may not be “necessary” to carry out and enforce other federal insurance regulation authorized under the new health law. But it is even less likely to be “proper” in accordance with ordinary means of execution and the letter and spirit of the Constitution’s structure that assigns powers among the federal government, the states, and the people.