James Pethokoukis

Politics and policy from inside Washington

Obamacare court ruling gives a shoutout to Tea Party movement

January 31, 2011

From page 42 of the ruling by Judge  Roger Vinson:

It would be a radical departure from existing case law to hold that Congress can regulate inactivity under the Commerce Clause. If it has the power to compelan otherwise passive individual into a commercial transaction with a third party merely by asserting — as was done in the Act — that compelling the actual transaction is itself “commercial and economic in nature, and substantially affects interstate commerce” [see Act § 1501(a)(1)], it is not hyperbolizing to suggest that Congress could do almost anything it wanted. It is difficult to imagine that a nation which began, at least in part, as the result of opposition to a British mandate giving the East India Company a monopoly and imposing a nominal tax on all tea sold in America would have set out to create a government with the power to force people to buy tea in the first place. If Congress can penalize a passive individual for failing to engage in commerce, the enumeration of powers in the Constitution would have been in vain for it would be “difficult to perceive any limitation on federal power”[Lopez, supra, 514 U.S. at 564], and we would have a Constitution in name only.

Comments

An excellent analysis of the weak link in Mr. Obama’s healthcare legislation. The question now is whether the Supreme Court will view it in the same fashion.

Posted by Gotthardbahn | Report as abusive
 

Please spare us your outrage. Most of the same people who passed the Constitution voted for the Militia Act of 1792 that required every American male between the ages of 18 and 45 to buy a gun.
The US goverment has always been able and willing to force citizens to do many things that were in the general interest of the country. If you don’t agree that the ACA is in the general interest of the country agrue for reform on that basis. Give up this idiotic arguement on Consitituionality.

Posted by bumticker | Report as abusive
 

The US government will eventually pay for failing to fix health care in this nation. I used to live in Taiwan and they did an amazing job transitioning from private to national care. Medical care was slightly less private than in the US, but it was much faster and more efficient. Lab tests were done on-site within the hour at most hospitals, instead of waiting the usual week or two in the US.

Anyway, I do not have health insurance, even though I work two jobs for the state. My one job has 74 “part-time” workers who do not receive health insurance, while there are only 6 full-time workers. Most “part-time” workers work about 10 hours less than the full-timers. The state saves money by limiting benefits, but my co-workers and I end of costing the state in the long run as we rack up health problems. It is cheaper to fix problems before they turn into major complications.

Anyway, I am so glad that I must buy car insurance, but buying health insurance is considered unconstitutional. I think I will show up at Judge Rodger Vinson’s house the next time I am sick and see if he can help me.

Posted by Formosan | Report as abusive
 

“Obamacare court ruling gives a shoutout to Tea Party movement”-

Which is exactly why Judge Vinson’s hyper-political and confusing misjudgments produced a ruling that’s not only flawed, but hard to respect as a work of legal scholarship.

The outcome of this case was a foregone conclusion. This particular case was brought by conservative state officials from 26 states, who carefully chose the venue. Vinson had already telegraphed the outcome, so the ruling just makes official what everyone expected anyway. Republicans are thrilled, of course, because activist court rulings are to be celebrated, just so long as it’s activism the right can agree with.

So two Republican-appointed federal district court judges have found that the individual mandate, an idea Republicans came up with, is unconstitutional. And two other federal district court judges, appointed by Democratic presidents, came to the opposite conclusion. About a dozen other federal courts have dismissed challenges to the health care law.

In other words, when you hear Pethokoukis say that “courts” have a problem with the Affordable Care Act, remember that it’s actually a minority of the judges who’ve heard cases related to the law.

Posted by GetpIaning | Report as abusive
 

Post Your Comment

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
  •