State AGs sue over Federal Mandate

No one could have ever predicted

Minutes after health-care legislation was signed into law by President Barack Obama yesterday, Virginia made good on its promise to sue the federal government over it, joining at least 13 other states that are legally challenging the health-system overhaul.

Virginia is challenging the constitutionality of the new law, primarily based on the argument that the “commerce clause” of the U.S. Constitution cannot be used by Congress to mandate that individuals purchase health insurance as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

“It has never been held that the ‘commerce clause,’ even when aided by the ‘necessary and proper clause,’ can be used to require citizens to buy goods and services,”
Cuccinelli asserts in the seven-page complaint.

The federal law is unconstitutional because “the individual mandate exceeds the enumerated powers conferred upon Congress,” the complaint states.

Congress has the power under the Commerce Clause of the US Constitution to regulate Interstate Commerce, that is, Commerce between and among the individual states. However, the AGs argue that Commerce Clause does not extend that Congressional authority to health insurance transactions that occur solely within a single state (intrastate), and so an Act authorizing a Federal mandate which forces individuals residing in those states to buy private health insurance within that state is unconstitutional.

If the Federal Mandate is ruled unconstitutional, the question then becomes whether the Mandate is severable from the rest of the Act.  If the Mandate is found to be non-severable so that removal would change the fundamental nature of the Act itself, the President’s entire health care initiative could very well be struck down as unconstitutional.

Yet it’s not just Obamacare that is at issue in this case, the entire relationship of our Federal government to the states and citizenry is also at stake.

The complaint asserts that Virginia’s own recently enacted law — which prohibits residents from being required to purchase insurance or from being subject to fines for failure to do so — is valid over federal law. Idaho recently enacted a similar law, called the Idaho Healthcare Freedom Act, to prevent its residents from being compelled to purchase health insurance.

The ghost of Andrew Jackson just fell off his horse.