President Obama signing health-care reform bill at the White House (White House photo)
A federal judge has concluded Congress can demand that Americans buy government-approved health insurance in the first ruling of its kind on Obamacare, but he also has opened a door for people to challenge the plan in court.
The ruling means the Supreme Court eventually could have the opportunity to decide whether Obamacare is constitutional and to redefine the scope of the Commerce Clause, which Washington now interprets as allowing such government requirements.
Since the Roosevelt administration, controversial Supreme Court interpretations of the clause have been used to broadly expand the powers of the federal government.
Detroit Federal District Judge George Caram Steeh ruled today that four Michigan plaintiffs and the Thomas More Law Center have standing to challenge the Health Care Reform Act, popularly known as Obamacare.
The TMLC brought suit on behalf of itself and four Michigan residents on the grounds that the Commerce Clause does not give the federal government any power to compel citizens to purchase health insurance.
Steeh rejected, however, the plaintiffs’ request to place an injunction on current enforcement of the Health Care Reform Act, which was signed into law by President Obama in March.
TMLC’s senior trial counsel, Rob Muise, said, “This decision is ripe for appeal, which we intend to do expeditiously.”
According to the Ann Arbor, Mich.-based law center, Steeh’s ruling means that the Supreme Court eventually will have the opportunity to decide whether the Commerce Clause grants the government the power to take control over the health care industry, a massive chunk of the American economy.
The law will impose at least 20 new taxes on the American public beginning Jan. 1, 2011. Starting in 2014, the act will require all Americans to purchase health care insurance policies whether they want health insurance or not.
Creating a single-payer national health care system remains a major agenda item for liberal Democrats, President Obama’s base of political support. The act does not create a single payer system immediately, but critics argue that some of its provisions are designed to induce private employers to terminate health coverage for their employees, forcing them to purchase health care through the federal government.
“Obamacare is one of the most oppressive measures in the history of our nation,” said TMLC President Richard Thompson. “It was not about reforming health care, but government seizure of unprecedented power over our lives. It transfers control of one-sixth of our nation’s economy to Washington bureaucrats, and it will add an estimated 16,000 to 20,000 additional IRS agents to monitor tax returns and records to determine compliance with the new regulations. We will continue to challenge it in the courts.”
The case challenged the basic premise by the government.
“Defendants argue that when plaintiffs sit at home and do not engage in the regulated economic activity, plaintiffs are in reality engaging in precisely the economic activity in which they have not engaged,” the brief said.
“We are led to believe that this imputed mental decision morphs into an activity that is defined by defendants as ‘the act not to purchase health insurance,’” the brief said. “But neither defendants nor Congress have the metaphysical power or authority to magically convert non-activity into activity.
“The congressional inferences, however, do not end here. Thus, once the imputed mental choice not to purchase health insurance is converted into an affirmative economic decision and this imputed decision somehow morphs into an actual act akin to purchasing something, only then does Congress impose the additional inferences that this individual belongs to a class of individuals who will (1) use the health care system and (2) nonetheless unfairly exploit the health care system by either not paying for health care or health insurance or by paying below market rates.
“In fact, the inferences here piled one on top of another do not consist of only a chain of inferred causal relationships, but per force begin with the metaphysical conversion of a non-act – an imputed decision – into a specific activity called ‘a choice regarding the method of payment,’” the brief argued.
The original brief explains it really doesn’t matter what Congress wants sometimes.
“Whatever value such congressional findings might have in the academic world of economic theory, they have neither de facto nor de jure power to change reality or to re-write the Commerce Clause.”
The Thomas More Law Center case against the president was brought on behalf of four individuals, Jann DeMars, John Ceci, Steven Hyder and Salina Hyder. They explained they currently are uninsured and do not plan to buy health insurance. They will be harmed by the government’s new penalties, they assert.
Besides a clear problem with the Commerce Clause if the government is allowed to demand residents purchase health insurance, the new law also conflicts with the First Amendment’s conscience and free expression of religion provisions as well as the Fifth Amendment’s equal protection provisions, the case alleges.