In its final brief in the Obamacare saga, PLF has joined forces with several other pro-freedom groups in challenging the constitutionality of the Individual Mandate provision of Obamacare. This is our eleventh brief challenging the constitutionality of Obamacare. You can read it here.
In it, we argue that the Mandate exceeds Congress’ constitutional authority to “regulate commerce among the several states.” Forcing people to buy something isn’t “regulation”—it’s compulsion. And a person’s failure to buy something isn’t “commerce”; it isn’t anything at all. The authors and ratifiers of the Constitution had no intention of creating a government that could force us to purchase something whether we wanted to or not.
What’s more, allowing Congress to exercise such power would mean that Congress could get around the democratic lawmaking process—as, indeed, it has here. Under current constitutional doctrines, nothing’s stopping Congress from taxing us all and setting up a government-run system of hospitals. There’s something like that already: the V.A. hospital system (which has about the same quality we’d expect from a nationalized health care system). But such a route is politically unpopular, and for good reason. So Congress instead chose to ram through a compromise bill that doesn’t exercise the constitutional power to tax, but instead forces us to buy a product from “private” insurance companies that are, in turn, forced to insure us. And all this so that politicians don’t have to call what they’re doing a “tax” or otherwise be held in check by the democratic process. That’s also why the Individual Mandate can’t be rescued by the Necessary and Proper Clause—what Justice Scalia once called “the last, best hope of those who defend ultra vires Congressional action.” Something as alien to our Constitution as the Individual Mandate simply cannot be “proper.”
PLF is the most active organization in the U.S. opposing Obamacare, having filed more briefs in more courts on more different aspects of the litigation than anyone else. This time around, in addition to PLF and the Cato Institute, the brief is joined by the National Tax Limitation Committee and fourteen other organizations as well as more than 300 state legislators. It’s very gratifying to have such allies, and we’re grateful for their help in what we hope will eventually be an important vindication of constitutionally limited government.
You can read all of our other Obamacare briefs here:
– D.C. Federal District Court:
Sissel v. HHS (more info at our case page)
– Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals and Virginia District Court
Virginia ex rel. Cucinelli v. Sebelius (case page)
Amicus brief supporting plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment (Commerce Clause, Necessary & Proper Clause, Taxing power)
Amicus brief on appeal (focusing on standing)
Supplemental letter brief (focusing on tax power)
– Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals
Florida v. HHS (more info)
– District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals
Seven-Sky v. Holder (more info)
– Arizona Federal District Court
Coons v. Geithner (more info)
– Supreme Court of the United States
Thomas More Law Ctr. v. Obama
Virignia v. Sebelius
Florida v. HHS
(Cross-posted at PLF Liberty Blog)