THIS COULD BECOME VERY BIG – AT 8:47 A.M. ET: We have the first small step in the campaign to challenge Obamacare in the courts. It may be one small step for conservatives, but it could lead to a giant leap for mankind:
In the first substantive legal ruling on President Barack Obama’s health care reform law, a federal judge has rejected the Justice Department’s request to dismiss a lawsuit from Virginia’s state government challenging the reform’s requirement that individuals purchase health insurance.
U.S. District Court Judge Henry Hudson ruled that enough legal issues were in dispute in the case to allow the suit, brought by Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, to go forward. At issue is whether the insurance mandate included in the reform exceeds the federal government’s authority under the Constitution — in particular, whether Congress’s ability to regulate commerce allows the federal government to penalize those who decline to buy or obtain health insurance.
The lawsuit is also based in part on a law passed in that state in March seeking to bar the federal government from imposing any mandate to purchase health insurance.
“Unquestionably, this regulation radically changes the landscape of health insurance coverage in America,” Hudson wrote in a 32-page decision filed Monday morning. “Never before has the Commerce Clause … been extended this far.”
Hudson said there was no clear legal precedent allowing the federal government to impose such a rule, even under Congress’s power to require individuals to pay taxes. However, he also conceded there was no clear precedent to the contrary.
COMMENT: Yes, the Obamans could call it a tax, which would probably make it constitutional. Trouble is, when the health bill was being debated, the Obamans denied that it was a tax.
It would be great if this provision failed to pass constitutional muster, and that might happen in the Supreme Court on a 5-4 vote. If the government can require us to buy health insurance, what else can it require us to buy? The expansion of federal power involved here is vast, and frightening.
August 3, 2010