Rep. Allen West: ‘Life, Liberty & Pursuit of Happiness Got Struck Down’ by Supreme Court

Patrick Burke | June 28, 2012 | 4:55pm EDT
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Rep. Allen West ( Photo)

( - Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) says the government mandate on individuals to buy health insurance is a tax only because the Supreme Court says that it is.

“Well obviously it is, since the Supreme Court rules that it is," West told on Thursday afternoon. “And I think it goes against what President Obama originally said that it wasn’t a tax.

But West also said that the Supreme Court ruling Thursday upholding Obamacare and the individual mandate as a tax on people was a “dangerous precedent” that gives the government unwarranted power.

“Now we have a federal government that has unlimited taxing authority and power based upon the precedent that was just established by the Supreme Court,” West said, “So that if I want to tell you that all runners in the United States of America must buy New Balance running shoes and if you don’t buy New Balance running shoes, I’ll tax you for it.”

West said that there is now literally "nothing that the government cannot do" by imposing a tax. had asked West the question: “I’m wondering if in your view, the individual mandate in the health-care law today, is that a tax?"

The Supreme Court, led by Chief Justice John Roberts ruled that Congress had no right to impose the mandate under the Commerce Clause of the Constitution, but it could do so by regarding it as a tax.

When asked West if he had told his constituents that the individual mandate was a tax, the congressman replied: “Well I never told them that it was a tax, but I told them that this is a dangerous precedent when the federal government can tell the individual American citizen what type of private sector commodity they must buy or else there’s a punishment to it. You can call it a fine, you can call it a tax, whatever -- that’s not within our scope, that’s not within our powers.

West noted with irony that the Supreme Court decision came just in advance of the Fourth of July.

“(N)ext week we’re celebrating 236 years of this great constitutional republic. And the words that Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence. Our country was established because people were not happy with onerous tax policies and the intrusive nature of government. And look at where we are 236 years later.

“I think that you’re looking at redefining the relationship between government and the individual in the United States of America,” West said. “So I think the people who lost today were the American people because individual sovereignty, those inalienable rights that come from our Creator -- life liberty and the pursuit of happiness -- they just got struck down by the Supreme Court.”

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