Can the government dictate what you can have in your food storage?
Recently, the Supreme Court has taken up the case of the Affordable Care Act, which is President Obama’s signature legislative accomplishment. At the heart of the matter, the justices will decide whether or not the government can use its “Commerce Clause” powers to force every American into purchasing insurance.
Over the years, the Commerce Clause has been used to allow government intrusion into just about every aspect of life. The clause was originally written into the Constitution so that the federal government could mediate disputes between states and other nations. However, it soon grew to encompass things that were far beyond its original scope. Case in point: Wickard v. Filburn.
In 1938, the New Deal was in full swing, and as part of that, Congress enacted the Agricultural Adjustment Act, which was intended to raise agricultural prices by artificially restricting supply. It did this by paying farmers subsidies for not growing certain crops. It was later amended to go a step further by establishing maximum quotas for the production of wheat, and imposing fines for growers who exceeded those limits. In other words, the government went beyond simply incentivizing farmers not to grow, and actually criminalized the use of private property to grow more of certain crops than the government allowed.
Under the AAA, Filburn’s 1941 allotment for wheat allowed him to sow 11.1 acres at a normal yield of 20.1 bushels per acre. He nevertheless chose to plant 23 acres, resulting in the production of 239 more bushels of wheat than the government said he was allowed to produce. Although Filburn’s extra production was intended for his own consumption and never entered commerce at all—much less crossed state lines to become interstate—he was fined, and the extra production was effectively impounded to secure the government’s lien to ensure payment of that fine. Filburn sued, claiming that the regulation went beyond Congress’ authority under the Commerce Clause.
Unbelievably, the Supreme Court unanimously upheld the decision.
If you look at the actual Commerce Clause in the Constitution it is pretty simple. I highly doubt the Founders ever thought it would be used for such sweeping and draconian policies.
“The Congress shall have Power To . . . regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian Tribes[.]”
So it will be interesting to see what the Supreme Court does in the case of ObamaCare. Will it put a restraint on the power of the federal government or continue to allow it to move further and further into our lives? And though it sounds almost dumb to say it, if the government can tell a farmer what he can or can’t grow on his farm, can it also tell people what they can or can’t have in their emergency storage?