Federal Judge Advances 20-State Obamacare Challenge

A federal judge has allowed the 20-state challenge to Obamacare to go forward ruling against the Obama Justice Department challenge in a motion to dismiss.

Rep. Tom Price, M.D. (R-Ga.), chairman of the Republican Study Committee, said this is a win for the Constitution.

“For far too long, liberals have managed to pervert the Constitution’s meaning and stretch the limits of government.  Those days are coming to an end,” Price said.  “The country has awakened to the Democrats’ unending push to give Uncle Sam more power and control, and Americans are fighting back.”

In the case of State of Florida v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson is allowing claims by the states to go forward.

At question is the constitutionality of the federal government forcing an individual to buy a good or service such as health insurance.

“Congress cannot legally force every single American to buy health insurance that the federal government specifically defines,” Price said.

Price also vowed to keep up the fight in Congress.

“While this Obamacare battle plays out in the court room, Republicans in Congress will fight to repeal this unconstitutional overreach and replace it with reforms that empower people with the freedom to make their own health care decisions,” Price said.

There are 20 states involved in this lawsuit (Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Indiana, Idaho, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and Washington) along with the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB).

“Judge Vinson correctly recognized that the individual mandate, which forces all Americans to purchase health insurance, whether they want it or not gives the federal government an unprecedented amount of power over our individual lives,” said Karen Harned, executive director of the NFIB Small Business Legal Center.

In his opinion released today Judge Vinson stated (pages 63-64):

“The individual mandate applies across the board. People have no choice and there is no way to avoid it. Those who fall under the individual mandate either comply with it, or they are penalized. It is not based on an activity that they make the choice to undertake. Rather, it is based solely on citizenship and on being alive. As the nonpartisan CBO concluded sixteen years ago (when the individual mandate was considered, but not pursued during the 1994 national healthcare reform efforts): “A mandate requiring all individuals to purchase health insurance would be an unprecedented form of federal action. The government has never required people to buy any good or service as a condition of lawful residence in the United States.” See Congressional Budget Office Memorandum, The Budgetary Treatment of an Individual Mandate to Buy Health Insurance, August 1994.

“NFIB along with the 20 states that have joined this lawsuit strongly believe that the Commerce Clause does not give Congress the power to force individuals to purchase something simply because they are alive,” Harned said.  “We intend to prove that the individual mandate in the healthcare law is fundamentally unconstitutional, and, as a result, the entire law should be struck down.”

Oral arguments on the merits of these claims are scheduled for December 16 in the federal district court in Pensacola, Fla.

On Monday, October 18, the federal district court in Virginia will hear arguments in a separate lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the federal health care act and its insurance mandate.

On July 1, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli argued in court against the federal government’s motion to dismiss the suit and won that round.  The judge returned his decision on August 2 that the case could go forward. 

Monday’s Virginia hearing will also focus on arguments over the constitutionality of Obamacare.