Even as Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA) was telling constituents that the federal government has unlimited power to do whatever it wants, U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson was saying, “Not so fast!”

What President Obama considers his crowning achievement illustrates the great divide in American politics — between those who see Washington’s power as limited only by the ability to sway voters and we who see it as limited by design in the U.S. Constitution.

Straining to find a constitutional basis for mandating that everyone must buy health insurance, Obama’s lawyers resorted to the all-purpose Interstate Commerce Clause. But as much as that overburdened clause has been stretched before, Obamacare advocates want to twist it into a brand new and bigger-than-ever shape. As Judge Hudson wrote, “Never before has the Commerce Clause and associated Necessary and Proper Clause been extended this far.”

If the Constitution permits Congress to dictate that all must engage in the interstate commerce of politicians’ choice, then they also have power to dictate that we all must wear blue shoes on Tuesdays.

Virginia’s lawsuit against Obamacare and the companion lawsuit filed by 20 other states in Florida go to the very heart of what has spurred millions of Americans to join tea party protests. What makes America’s system so unique and successful is not just the doctrine of separation of powers or of checks and balances. It is the doctrine of limited government with its preservation of personal freedoms. Otherwise, the only difference between America and a monarchy would be that our kings must stand for election, but have unlimited power while they are in office.

First appeared at http://www.politico.com/arena/