One of the three lawsuits filed against the pro-abortion ObamaCare health care reform has been placed on a fast track for a federal appeals court. A Michigan federal judge issued the first ruling in any of the cases and now has allowed the case to move quickly to an appeals court.
Earlier this month, U.S. District Court Judge George Steeh in Detroit rejected some of the claims filed in the lawsuit presented by the Thomas More Law Center, a pro-life legal group, saying Congress overreached in passing the law.
The lawsuit says Congress exceeded the powers it has under the Commerce Clause in instituting a penalty for people who fail to purchase health insurance under the exchanges.
Steeh ruled that the Thomas More Law Center and the four Michigan plaintiffs it represented had standing to challenge the Health Care Reform Act and that the challenge was ripe for review.
However, he held that Congress has the authority under its Commerce Clause power to enact the individual mandate provision of the Act, which requires individuals to purchase health care insurance under penalty of federal law.
In an order issued Thursday, the judge agreed to the joint request by TMLC and the federal government for TMLC to appeal the case to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, which the pro-life legal group says it will do.
“This thing is set up quite nicely, actually, for an appeal,” Thomas More attorney Robert Muise said.
“By ruling in favor of the plaintiffs on all the jurisdictional issues, the case is in a posture for review by federal appellate courts on the substantive issue of whether the health care law violates the Commerce Clause,” the group says.
Richard Thompson, the president and chief counsel of the pro-life firm, said, “Obama Care is one of the most oppressive measures in the history of our Nation. And it was passed by Congress despite overwhelming opposition of the American people. It was not about reforming health care, but government seizure of unprecedented power over our lives. We will continue to challenge it in the courts.”
In its ruling, the district court stated, “While plaintiffs describe the Commerce Clause power as reaching economic activity, the government’s characterization of the Commerce Clause reaching economic decisions is more accurate.”
District Judge Henry Hudson heard the first round of oral arguments from Virginia officials and representatives of the Obama administration.
Hudson told attorneys for both sides that he would likely issue a ruling in the case by the end of the year and he also acknowledged the district court legal battle is but a precursor to a larger fight at the Supreme Court.
“As you well know, this is only one brief stop on the way to the United States Supreme Court,” Hudson said.
The Virginia challenge, like the arguments presented in the other cases, says the federal government does not have the authority to require Americans to purchase health care and punish them for not doing so.
“The Supreme Court has never allowed inactivity to be regulated as commerce,” said Virginia Solicitor General E. Duncan Getchell, according to The Washington Post. He called the Obama administration’s position “strained and extreme” saying “no one can opt out.”
Getchell told Hudson the legislation is an “unprecedented, unlimited and unsupportable in any serious regime of delegated, enumerated powers.
The Obama administration argues the decision not to buy insurance is itself an active process that Congress can regulate.
Hudson appeared to be more willing to go along with the arguments presented by challengers than Judge Steeh.