NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

ObamaCare and the Constitution -- An Update

August 4, 2010

Last November, a reporter asked House Speaker Nancy Pelosi if it was constitutional for Congress to require Americans to buy health insurance.   She responded, "Are you serious?" 

On Monday, U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson got serious, says Betsy McCaughey, former lieutenant governor of New York and author of "Obama Health Law: What It Says and How to Overturn It" (Encounter, 2010): 

  • He denied Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius's motion to dismiss a lawsuit brought by the state of Virginia challenging the new health law.
  • His ruling stated that it is far from certain Congress has the authority to compel Americans to buy insurance and penalize those who don't.  

Judge Hudson's ruling paved the way for a trial to begin on October 18, with possible appeals all the way to the Supreme Court, a lengthy process.  Some states will likely delay creating insurance exchanges and slow down other costly preparations for ObamaCare until its constitutionality is determined by this case. 

If mandatory insurance is declared unconstitutional, the entire health law could collapse like a house of cards, says McCaughey.  Most complex legislation states that if one part of the law is struck down, other parts remain enforceable.  But authors of ObamaCare chose to omit that clause, suggesting that the health overhaul won't work without mandatory insurance. 

The law's defenders say the requirement that everyone purchase health insurance will solve a national problem by reducing the number of uninsured and spreading the cost of care over a larger insurance pool. 

Critics say that the requirement tramples the Constitution: 

  • Twenty-one states and several individuals are already suing to overturn it.
  • Virginia went one step further, enacting a law that makes it illegal to require any resident to purchase health insurance.

The Virginia measure won solid support from both Republican and Democratic state legislators.  Despite what   Pelosi tried to suggest, questioning the constitutionality of ObamaCare is not partisan posturing.  A fundamental principle is at stake, says McCaughey. 

Source: Betsy McCaughey, "ObamaCare and the Constitution -- An Update," Wall Street Journal, August 4, 2010.

For text:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703545604575407160833226350.html 

 

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