Friday, February 4, 2011

Obamacare Declared Unconstitutional

Big news of last week -- Obamacare was struck down and declared unconstitutional by a federal district court judge in Florida.  The suit was filed the day Obamacare became law.  Of course it really isn't named Obamacare, it has a much loftier title:  “The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.”  But regardless of title and intent, the court stamped it with a new label:


What does that mean?  The U.S. House of Representatives voted to repeal Obamacare, and the Senate narrowly turned back a repeal bill in that body.  What does that mean?

First, twenty-six states including Florida joined in that lawsuit to stop it.  The judge's ruling binds the parties to the suit and that includes all twenty-six states, the National Federation of Independent Business and the Federal Government.  This means that, absent a court-issued stay, Obamacare cannot be further implemented as it pertains to these twenty-six states.  This court victory signals to me that the states are emerging to assert their rights against a federal government grown too big, too demanding, and too dictatorial.  They are beginning to push back.

The outcome will be appealed, but both sides would be well served in expediting the case directly to the Supreme Court.  This ruling reduces all the arguments to a very simple matter -- can the federal government do something unconstitutional just because it can, or is it subject to the protections guaranteed to its citizens after all?  Whatever the outcome up ahead, the case is now a simpler matter because of this ruling.

On the legislative front a repeal of the measure is likely not going to happen as long as Obama is in the White House.  The votes required to override his veto simply don't exist presently.

Judge Roger Vinson
The opinion handed down by Judge Roger Vinson in Florida is instructive and well worth reading.  This is a judge who actually cites the Constitution and reasons his opinion based upon it.  The ruling itself is 78 pages long, a mere fraction of the comprehensive attempt of lawmakers to push through something so massive and incomprehensible even those who voted in favor would later admit they hadn't even read the blasted thing.

I don't pretend to understand the legal system, but I believe I can understand the simple conclusion of this courageous federal judge, who summarized his ruling in these words:

"The existing problems in our national health care system are recognized by everyone in this case. There is widespread sentiment for positive improvements that will reduce costs, improve the quality of care, and expand availability in a way that the nation can afford. This is obviously a very difficult task. Regardless of how laudable its attempts may have been to accomplish these goals in passing the Act, Congress must operate within the bounds established by the Constitution. Again, this case is not about whether the Act is wise or unwise legislation. It is about the Constitutional role of the federal government.

"For the reasons stated, I must reluctantly conclude that Congress exceeded the bounds of its authority in passing the Act with the individual mandate. That is not to say, of course, that Congress is without power to address the problems and inequities in our health care system. The health care market is more than one sixth of the national economy, and without doubt Congress has the power to reform and regulate this market. That has not been disputed in this case. The principal dispute has been about how Congress chose to exercise that power here.

"Because the individual mandate is unconstitutional and not severable, the entire Act must be declared void."

* * *

In short, the judge concluded the federal government cannot force American citizens to buy ANYTHING under any legal argument built on the Commerce Clause of the Constitution.  Most citizens in America today have absolutely no idea what that last sentence means, nor do they care.

But I care deeply about it.  The battle for individual freedom is on the line, and the battle has been enjoined.

Senator Mike Lee (R-UT)
Senator Mike Lee (R-UT), the youngest member of the United States Senate at age 39, began running the legislative gauntlet yesterday in a Judiciary Committee hearing.  He brilliantly framed the legal argument with a Duke University professor who was appearing and giving testimony before the committee.

This is the very argument that will no doubt play out in the Supreme Court when Obamacare finally lands in the laps of the justices, and it centers in the nexus of the gradual judicial expansion of the original definition in the Constitution of the Commerce Clause.  Lee contends the courts have simply gone too far, Judge Vinson agrees, and now we will see how the SCOTUS lines up.

As THE junior senator on the block, he acquitted himself well.  I learned today that Lee has also been named to the two other committees -- Energy and Foreign Relations.  He got the three committees he asked for.

He's off to a good start doing the job Utahns elected him to do.  Anyone who thought he wouldn't have any "clout" had better be ready to be surprised.  Mike is no shrinking violet.  He's so at home in this maiden voyage in the Judiciary Committee, one wonders if he wasn't born to the task.  (And he probably was).

He's the right man at the right time in the right place.  His knowledge of the Constitution and how to apply its principles is inspiring, but more. . .

He's come to Washington with a big stick, and he will use it to benchmark anything against that Constitutional standard when it comes before him.

I like Mike, and so will you before too long if you think like I do.

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