March 1, 2012 7:29AM

American People: Of Course the Individual Mandate Is Unconstitutional

Cato senior fellow Randy Barnett (also, of course, a Georgetown law professor and the "intellectual godfather" of the Obamacare litigation) blogs the results of a new USA Today/Gallup poll: 72% of Americans (including 56% of Democrats and 54% of those who think "the healthcare law is a good thing") think the individual mandate is unconstitutional.  This follows a Rasmussen poll showing that a majority of Americans favor repeal and an AP poll from August that found 82% to opine that the federal government "should not have the power to require all Americans to buy health insurance."

Now, no court should rule a given way simply because a majority---even an overwhelming majority---of people want it to.  Indeed, the judiciary is by design the non-political branch of government, one often required by the Constitution to reach counter-majoritarian results.  But to the extent that in this unprecedented litigation over an unprecedented assertion of federal power, where the outcome could turn on whether something is "proper"---the intepretation of which term may depend on concepts such as "legitimacy" and "accountability"---the sustained, strong views of the public may, at the margins, matter.

Are you listening, Justice Kennedy Supreme Court?