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PostPosted: Mon Dec 13, 2010 7:00 pm 
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Virginia judge rules health care mandate unconstitutional

http://www.cnn.com/2010/POLITICS/12/13/ ... index.html

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 13, 2010 7:39 pm 
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Always nice to get some good news on a Monday! :D


Quote:
Judge: Individual mandate is unconstitutional
By: Jennifer Haberkorn and Sarah Kliff
December 13, 2010 12:20 PM EST

A federal judge struck down the heart of the Obama administration’s health reform law Monday, ruling that the individual mandate to buy health insurance is unconstitutional.

In the closely watched suit brought by Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, District Judge Henry Hudson found that the mandate “exceeds the constitutional boundaries of congressional power.”

Hudson stopped short of blocking the law’s implementation until a higher court acts, but said he expects the administration to honor his ruling.

“The final word will undoubtedly reside with a higher court,” Hudson wrote in his ruling. “In this Court’s view, the award of declaratory judgment is sufficient to stay the hand of the executive branch pending appellate review.”

Within hours of his victory, Cuccinelli called for the case to be fast-tracked up to the Supreme Court, arguing that prolonged uncertainty over the law would be detrimental to all parties involved. “The costs we would have to incur implementing…would be wasted if the bill is unconstitutional,” Cuccinelli told reporters Monday.

The Obama administration, however, doesn’t plan to push the case to the high court early. Doing so would be “premature,” one administration official said at a briefing with reporters this week. And, without the Department of Justice’s backing, Cuccinelli may back off on the issue.

“We have not decided what we would do if the Department of Justice was not agreeable to accelerating or skipping the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals,” he said.

For its part, the Department of Justice said Monday that it’s confident the law will be upheld by higher courts.

“We are disappointed in today’s ruling but continue to believe – as other federal courts in Virginia and Michigan have found – that the Affordable Care Act is constitutional,” said DOJ spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler. “There is clear and well-established legal precedent that Congress acted within its constitutional authority in passing this law and we are confident that we will ultimately prevail.”

The Virginia ruling is arguably the most prominent in an onslaught of legal challenges that immediately followed the law’s passage in March. In another key case in Florida, where 20 states are challenging the law, the court will hear oral arguments on Thursday.

Of the 15 cases that judges have opined on so far, the Virginia suit is the first to strike down any part of the health reform law.

The White House does not believe the decision will have any impact on the ongoing implementation of the health care law. Officials downplayed the suggestion that rulings against the law would create uncertainty in the middle of its implementation, largely because some of the key provisions don’t take effect until 2014. The White House anticipates all challenges to the law will have worked their way through the system by then.


The Virginia ruling has been a longtime in the making. The state was the first to pass a law barring the mandated purchase of health insurance, setting the stage for Cuccinelli’s lawsuit. Cuccinelli’s suit, like most of the health reform challenges, argues that the individual mandate – which means that everyone must buy health insurance — is an unconstitutional expansion of the Commerce Clause.

Administration officials concede that the lack of a mandate would cut the number of uninsured people who would get coverage in half and threaten the ban on denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions – one of the president’s signature selling points on the law. The insurance industry has maintained that it needs the individual mandate--and the healthy people who would presumably buy insurance because of it--in order to be able to offer coverage for pre-existing conditions and to lift caps on lifetime limits.

Still, the Virginia suit focused on the individual mandate, and other parts of the law, such as the insurance exchanges and Medicaid expansion, could arguably move forward unaffected.

Health reform supporters were quick to stress that the vast majority of health reform cases have come out in their favor, with judges either ruling the law to be constitutional or tossing out the suits altogether.

“While the Virginia case is important and has drawn strong media interest, it is no more important than the many other rulings by judges of equal rank who have determined that the law is constitutional or have issued dismissals on procedural grounds,” says Ethan Rome, executive director of Health Care for America Now.

While White House officials believe the law will ultimately be ruled constitutional, they do anticipate losing some of the 20 cases out there.

The insurance industry hasn’t weighed in on any of the pending health reform legislation, but has strongly supported a requirement to buy insurance in tandem with industry reforms.

“Throughout the health care reform debate there was broad agreement that enacting guarantee issue and community rating would cause significant disruption and skyrocketing costs unless all Americans have coverage,” said America’s Health Insurance Plans spokesman Robert Zirkelbach, referring to requirements that insurance not turn down applicants and not charge more to a sick person than a healthy one.

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 13, 2010 11:41 pm 
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Why can't the federal government keep their hands off our health care?

Obama and other big government, redistribution-of-wealth socialists have pushed so hard for the passage of the health care bill because it would mean the end to state's rights.

I applaud Cuccinneli for his courage and concern for this nation. Health care regulations and licensing of doctors, nurses, etc and pharmacies, clinics, and hospitals have been intrastate (within each state's jurisdiction). Insurance is the province of state commissioners and laws. If this massive federal law is allowed to stand by the courts, there would be no area our federal government could not regulate under some newly created right to regulate health care as interstate commerce.

Another suit is going forward in Florida and has been joined by over twenty states. Soon half of the states will be involved in suit against the federal health care bill (ObamaCare). This type of thing has never happened in the United States of America.

Have others of you seen Mike Huckabee's ad to repeal the health care bill? It was just on our TV station, and my husband said to quickly go sign the petition. Michael Reagan is also involved in this project.

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 13, 2010 11:47 pm 
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Does this ruling, if it sticks, have any impact on the Massachusetts mandate? Surely if one is unconstitutional, then so it is on the state level. And if Mitt's mandate is eventually struck down, his signature legislation is nullified.

Nevermind I just found the answer to my question.. http://www.bizjournals.com/boston/blog/ ... -from.html

If the ruling stands, it will have no effect on the Mass. law, but it may bring about lawsuits in Massachusetts.


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 14, 2010 1:46 am 
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If there were to be lawsuits against RomneyCare...Wow that would be a stumbling block for him if he runs.

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 14, 2010 8:35 am 
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christopher.wilkerson wrote:
Does this ruling, if it sticks, have any impact on the Massachusetts mandate? Surely if one is unconstitutional, then so it is on the state level. And if Mitt's mandate is eventually struck down, his signature legislation is nullified.

Nevermind I just found the answer to my question.. http://www.bizjournals.com/boston/blog/ ... -from.html

If the ruling stands, it will have no effect on the Mass. law, but it may bring about lawsuits in Massachusetts.


Right. My understanding is that the reason the 20 plus states are bringing suit against the FEDERAL government is because of the interstate commerce clause of the Constitution. While Romney laid the groundwork by approving Massachusetts state-run health care, it was not yet a federal plan. Their plan is intrastate, that is, limited to the State of Massachusetts. States can require certain regulations, standards of care, and even services, although I think even MassCare is overstepping their state constitution, too.

The federal government is taking the position under ObamaCare that it is perfectly legal for them to force all the people to buy health insurance. Only by a convolution of the meaning of the interstate commerce clause of the Constitution, and overturning the objection of states in court, can they succeed.

That is why I agree with Huckabee's latest national ad asking that people sign a petition to repeal the nationalized health care bill. It is far too extensive and dangerous to successfully amend. Every scrap and word of it must be overturned or it will be too easy for the liberals to gain ground with federalizing health care again. We have to quit letting this loss of liberty happen incrementally.

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 14, 2010 11:46 am 
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Somebody else may be able to shed some further light on this, but I recall reading an article sometime recently which said the Senate version of the bill, which was the one they had to pass due to whatever convoluted process they eventually wound up using, was never intended to be final and therefore does not include certain boilerplate text.

That boilerplate text included certain clauses, including the standard "Exception Clause," which is included in most bills and says that if any portion of the bill is found unconstitutional, the rest of the bill will still stand.

The author of this article was saying that because the Senate version of the healthcare bill did not include this clause and was the version that became law, the entire bill will fall if even one small portion of it is found unconstitutional.

Does anyone know if this is actually accurate?


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 15, 2010 6:16 am 
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Matthew wrote:
Somebody else may be able to shed some further light on this, but I recall reading an article sometime recently which said the Senate version of the bill, which was the one they had to pass due to whatever convoluted process they eventually wound up using, was never intended to be final and therefore does not include certain boilerplate text.

That boilerplate text included certain clauses, including the standard "Exception Clause," which is included in most bills and says that if any portion of the bill is found unconstitutional, the rest of the bill will still stand.

The author of this article was saying that because the Senate version of the healthcare bill did not include this clause and was the version that became law, the entire bill will fall if even one small portion of it is found unconstitutional.

Does anyone know if this is actually accurate?


I did download one of the versions of the bill when it was being considered. And I remember this language. But just saying "this bill cannot be found unconstitutional" will not work, will it? Otherwise they could tack this statement on any bill. I do know that the legislature has certain powers seldom used to pass bills that might limit the court's review.

The whole thing is a travesty of big government and another travesty of a misinformed and indifferent news media that generally does not serve us well in exposing the faults of the left.

But the states are doing the right and necessary thing to oppose another huge mandate on taxpayers of their states. The health care bill is another of the Utopian ideas of the left that is unworkable and unsustainable. Government is not able to be nanny, uncle, and Big Brother without making a colossal mess of it.

"Eternal vigilance" is the price we must pay for liberty.

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 15, 2010 7:08 am 
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According to Ken Cuccinelli, Attorney General of the Commonwealth of Virginia, their state argued just two basic arguments in the case:

1) That the individual mandate was beyond the power of Congress and the President to impose under the Constitution.

2) The government used a "fallback" argument in case the court would say the individual mandate was unconstitutional. They originally inserted language in the bill, asserting that this was not really a "tax" but a penalty for not buying health insurance. Now that the bill is passed, Democrats say, well yes, it must be a tax because it generates revenue and therefore it is OK under the General Welfare Clause of the Constitution.

This is why the general public gets so confused and disgusted with big government! :shock:

The federal government had to win only one of the arguments, but Virginia had to win both, which Cuccinelli did. District Judge Hanson was not fooled by either argument. The judge said that calling something a tax that is a penalty does not make it so.

http://www.cuccinelli.com/index.php/healthcaredecision

It seems that the Virginia ruling would only make the individual mandate unconstitutional, perhaps not the whole bill. Therefore, Huckabee is urging we sign a petition for Congress to overturn the bill in its entirety.

This ruling will no doubt be appealed to higher courts, including eventually the Supreme Court. Cucinnelli is discussing with the Department of Justice an acceleration of the case so states could know how to plan. Otherwise, the process could take two years at best estimate, and states are already spending millions setting up for national health care.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 15, 2010 11:59 am 
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justgrace wrote:
I did download one of the versions of the bill when it was being considered. And I remember this language.
That was probably the House version.

justgrace wrote:
But just saying "this bill cannot be found unconstitutional" will not work, will it?
They don't say that exactly, they just say that if any portion of the bill is found unconstitutional, the rest of the bill will stand.

My understanding is that, without that clause (which the passed Senate version supposedly does not have), any portion of the bill being found unconstitutional would simply make the bill itself unconstitutional. In other words, any win in the Supreme Court, no matter how small, could take down the entire bill. (Again, this is just my understanding of the situation, and I could easily be wrong.)


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 15, 2010 12:34 pm 
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Matthew wrote:
justgrace wrote:
I did download one of the versions of the bill when it was being considered. And I remember this language.
That was probably the House version.

justgrace wrote:
But just saying "this bill cannot be found unconstitutional" will not work, will it?
They don't say that exactly, they just say that if any portion of the bill is found unconstitutional, the rest of the bill will stand.

My understanding is that, without that clause (which the passed Senate version supposedly does not have), any portion of the bill being found unconstitutional would simply make the bill itself unconstitutional. In other words, any win in the Supreme Court, no matter how small, could take down the entire bill. (Again, this is just my understanding of the situation, and I could easily be wrong.)

It was probably the House version. There were so many, and once it was finally voted upon, more pages had been added. No one (truthfully) knew what was in this bill before it was passed. Nancy Pelosi had not even read it, but she had faith we'd all love it.

It will be interesting to see how far-reaching the lawsuit will be that was begun by the Florida Attorney General months ago. Twenty some state's attorneys general have joined him. Their case may be based on a broader set of objections than just arguing about the commerce clause (government mandate to buy health insurance or be fined.) I really hope that this whole bill will be considered unconstitutional upon many counts.

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 15, 2010 1:19 pm 
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I found a fairly recent article from the Wall Street Journal entitled, "Joining the ObamaCare Suit."
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704393604575615104135953066.html

Quote:
The historic state lawsuit against ObamaCare is moving through the federal courts, with 20 states so far on board the case led by Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum and sure to be continued by his successor, Pam Bondi. Newly elected Governors and AGs now have an opportunity to join this suit and underscore its importance to the future of liberty and our federal system of government.

With the exception of Louisiana AG Buddy Caldwell, Democratic Governors and AGs have refrained from joining the suit against a law passed by a Democratic Congress. But sweeping GOP gains in the states on November 2 mean that Republicans can decide to join when they take office in January.


Sounds like the lawsuit will be held up until January when the new Republicans lawmakers are sworn in. More states may join suit, and I hope Kansas is among them. This article counts six likely new AG's to join in the suit. There are three or four other interesting uncertainties, including Chris Christie's appointee.

Quote:
The election results should also impress state officials who continue in office but have so far declined to join the Constitutional challenge. One mystery is New Jersey, where Governor Chris Christie appoints the AG. Surely Mr. Christie must understand how much ObamaCare's expansion of Medicaid will undermine his efforts to fix the state fisc. Join the cause, Governor.

In West Virginia, Democratic Governor Joe Manchin had declined to join the suit. But he's now headed to the Senate after having campaigned explicitly against ObamaCare. His successor, Democrat Earl Tomblin, has a chance to heed state voters who are clearly unhappy with the federal law. And in North Carolina, the GOP sweep of the state legislature for the first time should impress Governor Bev Purdue and Attorney General Roy Cooper, both Democrats who presumably want to win re-election.


If my addition is correct, there may be as many as 29 states suing our federal government. Indeed a record!


And, I thought these conclusions were interesting:

Quote:
From a legal point of view, we also think the Florida case offers the best chance of success. The core of the suit is the challenge to the law's individual mandate to buy insurance under the Commerce Clause. But the Florida suit also challenges the federal government for exceeding its power via Medicaid. ObamaCare requires states to spend billions of dollars to rearrange their health-care markets and vastly expands who can enroll in Medicaid, whether or not states can afford it. The Florida case claims the law unlawfully conscripts state officials to do this federal bidding. The National Federation of Independent Business has also joined the Florida suit, adding to the breadth of those opposed to the law.

America's Founders expected that having state legislatures elect U.S. Senators would protect state interests in the federal system. The 17th Amendment that allowed the direct election of Senators in 1913 made them more independent political actors. This means that states have little recourse except through lawsuits to challenge federal intrusions on their sovereignty.

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