September 15 2010
Moving Forward in Florida
A federal district judge in Florida appears to be making the right decision.
The case challenging the new health care reform law in Florida might be considered the "biggest" case challenging the new health care law in terms of importance - mainly because there are 20 states that have filed together as Plaintiffs, along with the National Federation of Independent Business, and other Plaintiffs. And yesterday Judge Vinson said that, although he may dismiss parts of the case, he will still hear it. The date is set for December 16. Read the Reuters report here. This a huge victory for opponents of the health care reform law passed this March.
This summer and this fall a wave of cases (more than 20 different lawsuits) holds great significance in the fight against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). The success of any one of the cases could mean the overturning of the law, or the failure of all of them could mean that our federal government has taken on new powers never before seen in the United States.
At the center of many of the cases (including the Florida case) is the individual mandate. Think about it - has the government ever required every person in the United States to purchase something before? Many states have auto insurance mandates, but as Michael Cannon of Cato said, "You can avoid the auto insurance mandate by divesting yourself of a car. The only way to avoid a health insurance mandate is by divesting yourself of a body."
There's nothing like it in our history. When the original consideration of the constitutionality of the mandate came up, proponents in Congress tried to tie the sale of insurance to interstate commerce, and then pointed to the Commerce Clause of the Constitution (Article 1, Section 8, Clause 3):
"[The Congress shall have power} To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes"
First of all, I'm pretty sure the idea behind the regulation of interstate commerce and trades with the Indian Tribes was not to provide a way for Congress to mandate the purchase of one specific good, namely health insurance. But here's the ugliest part: The health insurance mandate in the PPACA will punish individuals (with a fine) who do nothing. What is their crime? Inactivity.
So now the federal government is trying to bend one clause of the Constitution out of context to punish someone who fails to take an action the government compels. This issue isn't even about how many people are insured, how important basic health care is, or how humanitarian our government wants to be. This issue is about personal freedom and choice. And the scariest part is, this is only the beginning. Once the federal government has the power to force us all to buy health insurance, what else can it force us to do?
The American Revolutionists who fought for our freedom to live and pursue happiness apart from tyranny would not be happy about this, but they would be honored by the decision of Judge Vinson to hear the case in Florida. A violation of the world's greatest Constitution is not to be taken lightly.