In the video above, when discussing the Constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), the speaker pointed out that the “Individual Mandate” is a requirement, by the federal government, that an individual enter into a contract with an insurance company. The advocates claim that this can be justified under the Interstate Commerce Clause or under the power to tax for the “General Welfare”.

This week in Computer Science, an HP researcher claims to have proved the answer to a long-standing, high profile question in computational theory. The claim has generated much discussion. In discussing the claimed proof, Professor R. J. Lipton wrote,

Suppose that Alice is trying to prove {X}, some statement that Bob is interested in seeing proved. Alice is working hard trying to understand the problem: she reads the known literature, she talks to experts, she tries some examples, and she thinks hard about the problem.

Finally, after months of hard work, Alice has an outline of a proof. She has not checked all the details, but she is quite excited about the potential. She thinks she has her proof. Imagine that she is about to go to explain the proof to Bob.

Just before she does this, Alice notices the following. Let’s call her proof {cal P} of the statement {X}. She notices that the same proof—perhaps slightly changed—will also prove {X'}. In a sense she sees that

displaystyle  begin{array}{rcl}  	{cal P} &Rightarrow& X \ 	{cal P'} &Rightarrow& X' end{array}

where {cal P'} is a slight variation of her proof {cal P}.

Here is the principle: this is bad, very bad, if {X'} is known to be false.

In short, for a logical proof to be valid, it cannot prove something which is known to be false. Examining the PPACA, in light of this principle, we might fill in the blanks by changing one word, like this,

X is – “the federal government may require me to enter into an approved insurance contract”

P and P’ are “the Interstate Commerce Clause” and/or “the General Welfare clause”.

What if we change the word “insurance” to the word, “marriage”, for X’ ?

X’ – “the federal government may require me to enter into an approved marriage contract”

Is the federal government empowered to require us to get married to an “approved” spouse? Advocates of the Intolerable Act of 2010 seem to be claiming, “yes”.

cross-posted from the Pennsylvania Tenth Amendment Center

Steve Palmer