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Congress will be accused in a coming flood of lawsuits of trashing the Constitution through President Obama’s plan to nationalize health care, according to several groups that already have cases in the works.
The question will be reduced to whether the federal government has the authority to demand that Americans pay for a government-specified health insurance – and it likely will be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.
“The individual mandate … is going to be the focus of a lot of litigation,” Jay Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice told WND today, less than 24 hours after Congress endorsed a plan that would have the federal government take over one-sixth of the country’s economy.
“There’s the issue of whether Congress even has the authority to require people to participate in something like this, to buy something they don’t want to buy,” he said.
Richard Thompson, president of the Thomas More Law Center, agreed, telling WND among the primary questions that need to be resolved is whether the government can mandate citizens to purchase or obtain health insurance by federal fiat.
“It is a dangerous precedent,” he said.
Such thinking logically could be expected to affect other decisions: If the government opposes a product on any grounds, can it be forbidden? Or conversely, if the government likes a product, can it be required?
The ACLJ and Thomas More Law Center are among the activist organizations preparing legal action to challenge “Obamacare.”
Attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund also were on top of a related situation, moving forward in four different lawsuits to ensure that conscience protections – the right to decide a procedure is objectionable and to not perform it – is maintained for doctors, nurses, pharmacists and others.
And according to Liberty Counsel, “The threat to liberty posed by the health-care bill goes beyond health care. If Congress can get away with this expansive power grab, then individual liberty and state sovereignty will vanish.
“This political power grab will push the country to financial ruin. The bill funds abortion, destroys liberty, and is patently unconstitutional,” the group said.
Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., boasted, “We’re doing something that ranks with what we did with Social Security or Medicare. This is a day of which we can all be proud.”
The approval came after Obama issued an executive order essentially banning the use of federal funds for abortions, even though analysts have confirmed that Sunday’s decision effectually will be reversed when Obama signs the program into law.
Obama’s order was issued in exchange for the support of several Democrats in the House who opposed federal tax funding for abortions.
Promoters of the bill have long touted the millions who will be added to health-care rolls and claimed that long-term, the trillion-dollar bill will eventually lead to deficit reduction.
Critics say that the bill’s supporters have used accounting tricks to keep hundreds of millions of dollars in expenses out of the fine print. They cite several strikes against the reform attempt, from the cost of yet another taxpayer-funded entitlement to the general principle that nowhere in the U.S. Constitution – which sets limits on the federal government’s powers – is there an authorization to force people to buy the health-insurance program a federal bureaucrat picks out.
Ralk radio icon Rush Limbaugh today suggested American elections now are being threatened by Obama and warned that since the president’s health-care takeover was approved by Congress, a mass amnesty for illegal aliens cannot be far behind.
“The next big push will be amnesty for … millions of illegal immigrants who are here,” he said on his radio program.
“Obama’s gonna need their votes in 2012. The Democrats are going to need their votes in every election from now on – if we have elections, and I’m not joking.
“The Constitution has just been ripped to shreds, so why is anything safe?”
Sekulow and Thompson told WND there are a lot of issues on which “Obamacare” could be challenged constitutionally. The issue of the federal government exceeding its authority probably will be the strongest challenge.
Further, there are states’ rights questions and concerns that some of the special provisions in the bill should be perceived as unequal treatment under the law.
Sekulow said the cases will come up all over the country, but the U.S. Supreme Court eventually will have to rule on the plan by Congress.
“This is going to be national litigation in multiple jurisdictions and ultimately the Supreme Court of the United States [will rule],” he said. “We’ve got to be realistic here. At the end of the day this is going to be a complete change in the way we govern and Congress has authority to govern.
“This is way beyond health care at this point,” he said.
“We’re preparing legal action to challenge this measure and we intend to file a lawsuit in federal court soon challenging a law that is not only wrong for America – but a law with a forced mandate that penalizes Americans who choose not to participate,” Sekulow said. “This is unconstitutional and we believe ultimately will be overturned by the courts.”
The organization already has heard from nearly 500,000 Americans who oppose the government plan.
Thompson said the focus is simple: the U.S. Constitution.
“Basically you have a government, a Congress, acting beyond its enumerated powers. It goes back to the founding documents,” Thompson said. The founders has a vision that powers “not enumerated [in the Constitution], belong to the states or the people.”
That obviously includes the decision on what – or whether – to buy health insurance, he argues.
Such requirements are an issue because they restrict liberty, he said.
“Once the government starts doing that, liberty is jeopardized,” he said.
Another major issue that likely will be raised is mandatory funding for abortion, which could be determined to violate the fundamental rights of conscience and free exercise of religion.
Liberty Counsel said Congress lacks the authority to mandate insurance coverage for individuals or private businesses. It said Liberty University, the largest and fastest-growing Christian university in the world with more than 50,000 students, will be a plaintiff in its action.
In forecasting eventual arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court, the lawyers could be anticipating some awkward moments for the White House in its effort to abandon generations of practice in the U.S. regarding health care. Obama, during his State of the Union address this year, attacked the court for changing decades of precedent that allowed campaign spending by some and not by others.
“With all due deference to the separation of powers the Supreme Court reversed a century of law to open the floodgates for special interests – including foreign corporations – to spend without limit in our elections,” Obama said in front of the justices who attended the January speech.
Justice Samuel Alito was seen mouthing “not true” in response to the president, because the ruling contained exclusions for foreign entities.
Chief Justice John Roberts later said such an attack at “a political pep rally” was “very troubling.”
Already, members of both the House and the Senate have prepared legislation to repeal the health-care plan, and Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., said he will be part of that effort.
“When a president and a Congress collude to violate the Constitution and ignore the American people, everything our nation stands for is at risk,” DeMint said. “It’s not too late to undo the damage. I, and other Republicans, will work to repeal this monstrosity, and give Americans freedom to make their own health care choices.”