'This Week' Transcript: The Battle for the Constitution

AMANPOUR: You'd be hard pressed to find an American who doesn't see the Constitution as the foundation of government. But after that, things get murky. Would the Constitution for instance allow a law requiring people to buy health insurance? Do Second Amendment gun rights hold up in the age of the assault weapon? And when the First Amendment was drafted, could the authors have ever dreamt that one day it would protect violent video games? Let's bring back our roundtable.

So let's get to some of these specifics, which is so much part of the conversation around the country today. We touched briefly on health care. The whole debate about President Obama's health care act is being called unconstitutional in some quarters. So is that going to be challenged at the Supreme Court?

WILL: 26 states, more or less, (inaudible) 26 are in various courts around the country in a case absolutely certain to be decided by the Supreme Court.

The question is, has the congressional power to regulate interstate commerce been so loosely construed that now Congress can do anything at all, that there is nothing it cannot do.

Let me ask the three of you. Obviously, obesity and its costs affect interstate commerce. Does Congress have the constitutional power to require obese people to sign up for Weight Watchers? If not, why not?

STENGEL: Justice Vincent's opinion about Obamacare, saying that the government can't regulate inactivity and that we're stretching the Commerce Clause too far -- I think it's kind of silly. Everything having to do with health care does cross state boundaries. Even that notion of the Commerce Clause as regulating among the states is a kind of antiquarian idea. The government can ask you to do things. It asks us to --

WILL: It's not asking us, it's mandating.

STENGEL: It asks us to pay our taxes. It asks us to register for the draft. It asks us to buy car insurance if we want to drive our car around.


WILL: -- to buy a car.

STENGEL: If something is unconstitutional, people out there tend to think like some alarm will go off if something is unconstitutional. It's unconstitutional if the Supreme Court decides it's unconstitutional. And by the way, this can go to the Supreme Court, and we can see whether that happens.

WILL: Well, does Congress have the power to mandate that obese people sign up for -- do they have the power to do this?

STENGEL: I don't know the answer to that.

WILL: You don't know.

DYSON: Well, the beauty of that is, the not knowing -- and we can predict that Rick would say that because he's saying that's the color of the curtain. The basic foundation is set.

WILL: Is that a yes, Congress does have the power to mandate?

DYSON: It's open. If they decide that they will, they will have the power to do so.

LEPORE: Can I just sort of offer up a sort of a slightly different vantage on this question, because I think it's an important one. But I think, again, just sort of sound the note again, that this debate is what the Constitution is about. Right? We can have this debate. This is evidence that the Constitution is working.

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