The Obama Health Care Lawsuit Opening Salvos Have Been Fired

It was inevitable that a lawsuit would be launched over health care reform. The process is now underway.

Just recently, opening arguments were made in a Florida courtroom for the health care reform lawsuit. There are over 20 states taking part in this case and they are adamant that Obama’s legislation is unconstitutional. In particular, they feel that the individual mandate provision, that says everyone has to buy health insurance or pay a fine, violates the 10th Amendment.

The10th Amendment says that powers not directly given to the federal government are left to the states. Certainly, there have been various interpretations of this document over the years, but the real question is how the courts will interpret it now. While federalism has been upheld many times, the government has been given more leeway over the past years in its actions. The defense is hoping the courts go for a loose interpretation of the constitution that would mean everyone would have to get health insurance plans in place by 2014.

In order to have a chance at getting this case thrown out of court, defense counsel has to hammer at the fact that the commercial clause of the Constitution lets the federal government regulate actions that impact trade across state lines. Certainly, the purchase of health insurance happens across state lines all the time. What is the defense justification for that argument? The general welfare of the people clause.

There is also the fact that there may be a question that Attorney Generals lack standing to challenge the legislation. The first reason is because the mandated provision doesn’t kick in until 2014 and until then, it’s jumping the gun to try and prove harm. In addition, individual taxpayers will be directly affected, not state governments. If that argument is accepted, then individuals will need to file their own lawsuits. Interestingly enough, one fed up taxpayer, Matt Sissel, has done precisely that. His case is pending in federal court. His argument is that being forced to find health insurance plans or be fined is unconstitutional for every American.

Parties to the main lawsuit filed by state Attorney Generals indicate that the mere anticipation of this mandated change has already results in escalating costs and that small businesses are being forced into giving up their health insurance plans. This will be an interesting case to track and many Americans will be wondering what the outcome will be and what it will mean for them now and in the future.

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