The limits of written law

It doesn’t matter how perfectly you attempt to tie it down, government will always find a means of expanding its power:

Minnesota’s Republican governor, Tim Pawlenty, says the new federal health care law is unconstitutional. DFL Attorney General Lori Swanson says it’s not.

If the legal question gets to the U.S. Supreme Court, it may be decided with the help of a long-gone small-time Ohio farmer who once was fined $117 for growing too much wheat.

A key question about the health care bill involves just how far the power of Congress to regulate interstate commerce reaches. For nearly 70 years, one influential precedent on that issue has been the peculiar case of farmer Roscoe Filburn, whose crop was deemed to influence commerce “among the several states” — the kind of commerce the Constitution permits Congress to regulate — even though none of the excess wheat left his farm.