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There simply is no authority in the U.S. Constitution that allows bureaucrats in Washington to regulate “decisions,” according to arguments that challenge the legality of Obamacare and have been handed in to a federal appeals court.
They also warn affirmation of the law would give the federal government what amounts to “state police power.”
“Contrary to the district court’s decision, there is no enumerated power in the Constitution that permits the federal government to mandate that plaintiffs and other American ‘residents’ purchase health-care coverage or face a penalty,” said the brief submitted by the Thomas More Law Center to the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
The appeal is from a decision by Judge George Steeh to dismiss the lawsuit brought by the law center and several individuals challenging Obamacare as going far beyond what authority the government actually has.
The appeal said, “No matter how convinced defendants – or even the American public in general – may be that the Healthcare Reform Act is in the public interest, their political objectives can only be accomplished in according with the Constitution.”
Obama’s plan, which effectively nationalizes health-care decision-making, “represents an unprecedented encroachment on the liberty of all Americas, including plaintiffs, by imposing unprecedented governmental mandates that restrict their personal and economic freedoms.”
The case is among the first in a series of cases headed for the appellate level on the dispute that most expect ultimately will be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. Another district judge has agreed with Steeh, but just days ago another judge in Virginia ruled that the “individual mandate” – the plan’s requirement that every person must buy the government-approved insurance or be penalized, is unconstitutional.
Those disputes also are heading for the appellate level, and even as these challenges were being presented to the 6th Circuit court, attorneys were arguing in Florida in another lawsuit, by 20 states, that Obamacare is unconstitutional.
TMLC said it is asking the appeals court to reverse Steeh’s ruling.
“While the court below recognized that the Individual Mandate is unprecedented in that it penalizes the mere status of being uninsured (in fact, it punishes the mere status of ‘being’), the lower court took it upon itself to extend the Supreme Court’s extant Commerce Clause jurisprudence beyond its current limits of commercial or economic activity,” the center argued, “the lower court has created a new kind of Commerce Clause power not previously known to the jurisprudence, which effectively grants the federal government state police power, thereby rendering any notion of the constitutionally mandated federalism dead…”
“We are a nation of laws, not a nation of men,” said Robert Muise, senior trial counsel who is handling the case.
The results of the dispute will, the center warned, “forever impact the fundamental relationship between the power of the federal government and the liberty interests of those it governs. … At its core, it is about the constitutional limits of the federal government,” the brief states.
“When Congress acts beyond those limits, as here, the judicial branch must exercise its authority as the guardian of our Constitution and enjoin the illicit acts,” the brief suggested. “For the first time in our history, Congress has cited the Commerce Clause as authority to regulate a man or woman sitting in the privacy of his or her own home doing absolutely nothing but ‘living’ and ‘breathing.’
“The court obviously and necessarily ignores the pregnant question raised in plaintiffs’ arguments below: if the federal government has the authority to require Americans to purchase health insurance, it has the power … to require the same citizenry to act in specifically defined ways to safeguard their health in the first instance. Thus, the federal government could mandate that we all join a health club and indeed impose a penalty for not actually attending the club, to take multi-vitamins daily, and to dine only in government-approved ‘health’ restaurants,” the arguments say.
Joining in support of the arguments was the American Center for Law and Justice.
“Without question, the individual mandate provision violates the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution,” said Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the ACLJ. “A federal district court in Virginia this week understood that the key provision in Obamacare is constitutionally flawed and is beyond the scope of Congress’s authority. It’s our hope that the federal appeals court in this Michigan case reaches that same conclusion.”
“As such, the Commerce Clause does not authorize Congress to regulate the inactivity of American citizens by requiring them to buy a good or service (such as health insurance) as a condition of their lawful residence in this country. Because the individual mandate provision of the PPACA requires citizens to purchase health insurance or be penalized, the PPACA exceeds Congress’s authority under the Commerce Clause.”
The legal challenges are far from the only resistance to Obamacare. WND has reported that one legislative proposal in Texas calls for jail time for enforcing Obamacare.
A bill that has been prefiled for the 2011 state legislative session creates penalties of up to $5,000 in fines and up to five years in jail for anyone guilty of the “felony” of attempting “to enforce an act, order, law, statute, rule or regulation” of Obamacare, the president’s plan that effectively nationalizes the health-care decision making process.
An analysis of the issue by Michael Maharrey of the Tenth Amendment Center explains that there already is a widespread dissatisfaction across the United States from the mandates of Obamacare.
“The passage of the health care act opened the eyes of many previously apathetic citizens, making them aware of the rapidly expanding scope and influence of the federal government and its intrusiveness into their everyday lives,” he explained.
“They intuitively understand that requiring them to purchase health insurance falls far beyond the powers granted to Congress by the Constitution. Suddenly awake and alarmed by the fact that the federal government has grown so far out of control, and frustrated by what they see as the lack of responsiveness by politicians in D.C., many Americans find themselves looking for answers,” he said.
He noted there are dozens of claims and lawsuits challenging Obamacare.
Michael Boldin, founder of the Tenth Amendment Center, said under the Constitution and a historic understanding of the rights and responsibilities of states, Berman’s plan is reasonable.
“There is nothing more extreme than having a federal government that refuses to abide by the laws that we the people of the several states delegated to it in the Constitution,” he said. “The important point here is that it’s up to the people of each state to determine what the best response may be.
“One state, as Wyoming did with its Firearms Freedom Act, may decide that penalties on federal agents is the rightful response. Another, such as California with medical marijuana, may choose to create an environment conducive to non-compliance by masses of people. Either way – or somewhere in between – that’s the beauty of the American system. We can have widely varying actions, responses and viewpoints in different states while all living together in peace. One-size-fits-all solutions are actually the problem, and state-by-state decision-making is the natural response,” he said.
A year ago, Wyoming adopted legislation pioneered in the state of Montana that exempts guns made, sold and kept in the state from any federal regulations. Then lawmakers attached a penalty of up to two years in jail or $2,000 in fines for “federal agents” who would try to enforce regulations that violate state law.
Judge Henry Hudson’s decision rejecting Obamacare’s individual mandate said, “A thorough survey of pertinent constitutional case law has yielded no reported decisions from any federal appellate courts extending the Commerce Clause or General Welfare Clause to encompass regulation of a person’s decision not to purchase a product, notwithstanding its effect on interstate commerce or role in a global regulatory scheme.”
And he warned, “The unchecked expansion of congressional power to the limits suggested by the Minimum Essential Coverage Provision would invite unbridled exercise of federal police powers.”