Liberty and the Pursuit of Viagra

Viagra is going to be tested in the Supreme Court.

I don’t mean literally.

I don’t think.

But then who can ever be 100% sure of what goes on there, you know, with the baggy robes and everything.


When I say tested in the Supreme Court, though, I am referring to a challenge on constitutional grounds.

The issues?

Interstate commerce.

Equal opportunity.


Freedom of expansion.

The case will, of course, have historical precedent on its side.

Had Viagra been around during colonial times, unfettered access to the potency potion would have been specifically guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution.

In fact, it probably would have gotten its own amendment.

I base these assertions on rock-solid, irrefutable evidence:

Paintings I have seen of the Founding Fathers.

So, why bring all this up now?

Because the Clinton administration says it wants men on Medicaid to receive subsidized Viagra.


So far so good and certainly no surprise. It has been apparent for some time now that Clinton’s aim is to be the second president to be associated with the motto:

“Speak softly, but carry a big stick.” The problem is the president wants individual states to determine how many federally funded--I guess you would call them “at-bats"--a recipient will be entitled to each month.

Obviously, this is a bad idea.

This puts bureaucrats in boxer shorts.

This will drive yet another wedge between the poor and the swells.

This also raises pressing legal questions:

About privacy.

About pursuit of happiness.


About the right to bear arms.

Ironically, though, I think interstate commerce, not personal liberties, is what will get Viagra its day in court.

The case will travel this route after marketing-savvy states begin using the popular pop-up as an economic development tool.

Here is how it might work:

Say, for example, Florida decides the maximum number of paid swings it will allow in any given month will be four.

What is to prevent, say, Montana, from making Viagra the official state after-dinner mint?

It doesn’t take Dr. Ruth to see what would follow:

There would be an immediate stampede to the Wilder West.

Miami would become a ghost town.

The solution is to set nationwide guidelines, establish a governing principle.

Something like:

It is duly recognized that while all men may not have been equally endowed, their right to step up to the plate shall be.

Failure to adopt such a policy would be nothing less than cruel and unusual punishment.


Jim Shea is a columnist at the Hartford Courant. To reach him, write to Jim Shea, Hartford Courant, 285 Broad St., Hartford, CT 06115.