Bob Unruh joined WND in 2006 after nearly three decades with the Associated Press, as well as several Upper Midwest newspapers, where he covered everything from legislative battles and sports to tornadoes and homicidal survivalists. He is also a photographer whose scenic work has been used commercially.More ↓Less ↑
Another lawsuit has been filed against “Obamacare,” the president’s plan to give government more control over health care, which was adopted by Congress and signed into law over the opposition of a majority of Americans.
The newest complaint was filed in federal court in Washington, D.C., by the American Center for Law and Justice against Attorney General Eric Holder, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and its manager, Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. Also named are Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and his agency.
The case, filed on behalf of five American taxpayers, claims the mandate forcing U.S. citizens to buy health insurance violates the U.S. Constitution and the religious rights they hold.
“This is an unprecedented assault on the constitutional freedoms of Americans,” said Jay Sekulow, chief of the ACLJ. “The Constitution specifically grants the federal government, including Congress, limited powers. It’s clear that this individual insurance mandate goes well beyond those enumerated powers and represents the ultimate power play – Congress and the federal government acting as if they possess a policy power to pass and enforce any law that they deem advisable.”
The complaint comes on behalf of Susan Seven-Sky from New York, Peggy Lee Mead of North Carolina and Charles “Eddie” Lee, Gina Rodriguez and Kenneth Ruffo of Texas. It argues the demand in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that individuals buy government-approved health insurance or pay a penalty “exceeds the power of Congress.”
Further, it is “unconstitutional and cannot be enforced,” the case asserts.
“Mandating that individuals purchase health insurance is an unprecedented and unconstitutional expansion of congressional power, as Congress has never before required individuals to involuntarily buy a good or service under the guise of its Commerce Clause authority,” the complaint states.
“If Congress succeeds in asserting this unprecedented claim of authority, it would set a sweepingly broad standard unsupported by the Constitution that would allow Congress to dictate to individuals that they must, or must not, buy countless other goods or services in the marketplace,” the complaint says.
The case also alleges the demand of the Obama law “substantially burdens the exercise of [the plaintiffs'] religion.”
“They are forced to either join a health-insurance system that contradicts the tenets of their faith or pay substantial penalties for following the tenets of their faith,” the case states.
The case seeks a court declaration that the individual mandate is unconstitutional and that the defendants violated the plaintiffs’ rights under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
A permanent injunction against the individual mandate would be an appropriate solution, the case said.
“Through 2020, plaintiffs will be required to pay, at a minimum, a total of $27,265 in shared-responsibility payments for their lack of minimum essential coverage ($11,685 for plaintiff Rodriguez on behalf of herself and her household, and $3,895 each for plaintiffs Seven-Sky, Mead, Ruffo, and Lee),” the complaint said, although that could be much greater.
That’s simply not constitutional, the case argues.
“Congress must act within the limited, enumerated powers afforded to it by the Constitution,” it said. “The relevant sections of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act are beyond the power granted to Congress under the Constitution and are, therefore, unconstitutional and unenforceable.”
It continues, “No power enumerated or implied by Article I, Section 8, including the Commerce Clause or the Necessary and Proper Clause, grants Congress the power to enact a law that requires individuals who are not engaging in economic or commercial activity to enter a commercial transaction against their will.”
The case is just the latest brought against the government over Obamacare. The ACLJ filed an amicus brief just days ago in a lawsuit brought by the state of Virginia against the socialization of health care.
Its brief represents 28 members of Congress and more than 70,000 Americans who object to the individual mandate provision.
The Obama administration has started fighting back against that case, claiming in a motion submitted by Sebelius, the proabortion former governor from Kansas, that the law is constitutional.
The case originally brought by Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli came just hours after the law was adopted. It says there’s no authority in the Constitution for the federal government to demand economic participation in a nationalized health-care plan.
More than a dozen state attorneys general also have filed a lawsuit over the legislation on similar grounds.
Sebelius proclaimed in her argument the superiority of federal law:
“A state cannot … manufacture its own standing to challenge a federal law by simple expedient of passing a statute purporting to nullify it.”
She also claimed the requirement for mandatory insurance purchases and payments for all is supported by the Commerce Clause.
The plan, which is being phased in over years – at a cost the government’s own analysts now predict will reach into the trillions – also is largely rejected by the American people.
A recent Rasmussen Reports survey found 58 percent of the nation wants it repealed. The poll shows 62 percent also expect the new health-care plan will drive up the deficit, and 51 percent say health-care quality will get worse.
Another previous lawsuit came from the Thomas More Law Center on behalf of several other individuals. It challenges the government’s plan to force individuals to buy health-care insurance and pay for abortions, among other issues, or be penalized. It was brought in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan and seeks an injunction to halt the plan.
Named as defendants in the lawsuit are President Obama, Sebelius, Holder and Geithner.
In a brief in support of a request for a preliminary injunction, the plaintiffs argue that there’s not even any dispute.
“This case is about the fundamental relationship between the power of the federal government, which is limited by the Constitution, and the liberty interests of those it governs,” said the brief. “Defendants’ explanation of the national health-care problems this country is facing and the efforts by the federal government to provide solutions to them through the Health Care Reform is, at the end of the day, beside the point.
“No matter how convinced defendants may be that the challenged Health Care Reform Act is in the public interest, their political objectives can only be accomplished in accordance with the Constitution.”
The brief said, “Defendants’ arguments ultimately claim for the federal government the power to force all Americans … to engage in a commercial transaction in which they otherwise would not engage. … Defendants do not – because they cannot – refute plaintiffs’ claim that if the federal government does possess such power, then it also has the power to force private citizens ‘to engage in [other] affirmative acts, under penalty of law, such as taking vitamins, losing weight, joining health clubs, buying a GMC truck or purchasing an AIG insurance policy.’”