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Injunction sought to halt Obamacare

President Obama signing health-care reform bill at the White House yesterday (White House photo)

A legal team of experts on civil liberties and human rights is asking a federal court in Michigan to grant a preliminary injunction preventing the implementation of the “individual mandate” in “Obamacare,” warning that if imposed, it effectively will destroy the nation.

“The term ‘nanny state’ does not even begin to describe what we will have wrought,” argues the brief filed by the Thomas More Law Center.

The organization previously filed a lawsuit on behalf of four Michigan residents who object to the government’s plan to force them to buy health-care insurance and pay for abortions – or be penalized.

The case was brought to U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, seeking a halt to the legislation.

Named as defendants in the lawsuit are President Obama, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.

Now the law firm has filed a request for a preliminary injunction to prevent the imposition of the financial demands on private citizens.

“If Congress can use the Commerce Clause to force people to purchase insurance based on the mere fact that they exist or face federal penalties, then there is no limit to the power of Congress. Our case is about the constitutional limits of our federal government. Everyone agrees the health care system needs reform. But that doesn’t mean Congress is allowed to violate the Constitution in the process,” said Thomas More Law Center President Richard Thompson.

The brief cited a 1994 Congressional Budget Office report stating, “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.”

The brief also cites previous court opinions in which alarms have been raised over such a sweeping action.

“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. No matter how convinced defendants – or even the American public in general – may be that the Health Care Reform Act is in the public interest, their political objectives can only be accomplished in accord with the Constitution,” the brief states.

Besides a clear problem with the Commerce Clause if the government is allowed to demand residents purchase health insurance, “Obamacare” 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 brief explains.

But the courts, the brief explains, are “a guardian of those fundamental liberties, and it possess the constitutional authority to enjoin government acts that tread upon them.”

The case is a dispute over fundamental liberties, the brief said.

“The act forces uninsured persons, such as plaintiffs, to purchase private health-care coverage not because they are even tangentially engaged in the production, distribution or consumption of goods or commodities or any other commercial activity, but for no other reason than they, the uninsured residents, exist,” the brief argues.

“The federal government has never in the history of the United States attempted to stretch the Commerce Clause to include the regulation of inactivity,” the brief argues.

“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 breathing.”

The demise of the nation could not be far behind, the brief warns.

“If this is what the Commerce Clause has come to mean, it means the Commerce Clause is the enumerated power of the federal government without the need for any other enumerations because it would permit absolute power. …”

It would, in fact, be the “single omnipresent national polity with absolute power to regulate all spheres of human existence.”

Under this concept, “Liberty is no longer an unalienable right possessed by the individual, but a political privilege or license granted by the state – that being the federal government. This state of affairs effectively reverses the American Revolution and terminates the great experiment founded in the constitutional republic begun by our Founding Fathers.”

If such a provision is allowed, then the government would face no obstacles in ordering private citizens “to engage in 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, among others.”

The case was launched by the Thomas More Law Center and attorney David Yerushalmi
as soon as Obama signed the legislation March 23.

None of the four Michigan plaintiffs has private health care insurance, and they assert supporting abortion is contrary to their religious beliefs.

Robert Muise, Thomas More’s senior trial counsel, and Yerushalmi prepared the lawsuit.

The original complaint asserts the health-care reform law imposes unprecedented governmental mandates that trample on the personal and economic freedoms of Americans in violation of their constitutional rights.

It also alleges Congress had no authority under the Commerce Clause to pass the law and that by usurping the power reserved for the states and the people, Congress violated the Tenth Amendment.

The lawsuit also contends that by forcing private citizens to fund abortion, contrary to their rights of conscience and the free exercise of religion, Congress violated the First Amendment.

Thompson acknowledged Americans agree the health care system needs reform, but “they don’t want a federal takeover of the system in the process. And they don’t want reform by trampling on our Constitution.”