Conservative justices on Tuesday sharply questioned whether the government can force Americans to buy health insurance. In oral arguments over the new health care law passed by Congress in 2010, justices wondered if the law could set precedent allowing Congress to require Americans to buy other products, such as cell phones, burial insurance, gym memberships and broccoli.
"If the government can do that, what else can it do?" asked Justice Antonin Scalia, referring to the individual mandate portion of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. He then questioned whether Congress could also require individuals to buy vegetables, such as broccoli.
The recent national Reason-Rupe poll of 1200 adults released yesterday shows 87 percent of Americans believe it is unconstitutional for Congress to mandate that you buy broccoli. Eight percent think Congress can constitutionally force you to buy vegetables.
A lower percent, but still a clear majority (62 percent) believe it is unconstitutional for Congress to require Americans to buy health insurance, and a 51 percent do not believe Congress should require individuals to buy health insurance.
Proponents of the law disagree vegetable mandates logically follow from a health insurance mandate. The Obama administration's lawyer Donald Verrilli responded to Justice Scalia: "No, that's quite different" because participation in vegetable market is not unpredictable and involuntary.
Full poll results found here.
Nationwide telephone poll conducted March 10th-20th of both mobile and landline phones, 1200 adults, margin of error +/- 3 percent. Columns may not add up to 100 percent due to rounding. Full methodology can be found here.
Emily Ekins is the director of polling for Reason Foundation where she leads the Reason-Rupe public opinion research project, launched in 2011. Follow her on Twitter @emilyekins.