The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), a pro-life legal group and nearly 50 members of Congress today filed an amicus brief urging a federal appeals court to declare the entire health care law – including the individual mandate – unconstitutional.
The members of Congress include House Speaker John Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and the ACLJ’s amicus brief was filed in support of Virginia’s lawsuit challenging the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (PPACA), which is now on appeal.
“As the legal challenges to ObamaCare move forward, there’s one central argument that we’re confident will win the day – the mandate forcing individuals to purchase health care insurance is unconstitutional,” said Jay Sekulow, Chief Counsel of the ACLJ. “In the Virginia case, the federal district court got it right – forcing someone to buy health insurance is not economic activity and Congress does not have that authority under the Commerce Clause. We believe the federal district court should have gone one step further in declaring entire health care law – not just the individual mandate – unconstitutional. That’s what we’re asking the appeals court to do.”
In December, U.S. District Court Judge Henry E. Hudson in Richmond ruled in favor of Virginia concluding the individual mandate provision “exceeds the constitutional boundaries of congressional power.”
In its amicus brief filed today at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, the ACLJ agrees.
“The Commerce Clause does not authorize Congress to regulate the inactivity of American citizens by requiring them to buy a good or service (such as health insurance) as a condition of their lawful residence in this country,” the brief argues. “Because the individual mandate provision of the PPACA requires citizens to purchase health insurance or be penalized, the PPACA exceeds Congress’s authority under the Commerce Clause.”
However, the federal district court failed to declare the entire health care law unconstitutional. While the ACLJ urges the appeals court to uphold the earlier decision declaring the mandate unconstitutional, the brief also urges the appeals court to strike down the entire law.
The brief contends: “The individual mandate’s unconstitutionality requires the entire PPACA to fall. . . . by the government’s admission, the PPACA’s remaining provisions cannot function without the individual mandate . . . Consequently, because the individual mandate provision is unconstitutional and not severable from the remainder of the PPACA, the entire PPACA must be held invalid.”
A Florida federal judge ruled the entire Obamacare law unconstitutional in a separate lawsuit Florida and more than two dozen other states filed.
The brief is also filed on behalf of the ACLJ’s Constitutional Committee to Challenge the President and Congress on Health Care, which consists of over 70,000 Americans from across the country who oppose the individual mandate.
Recently, the U.S. Senate rejected a move by Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell to have the Senate approve a bill the House approved to repeal Obamacare. Senators voted along party lines with all Democrats — including three who say they are pro-life — voting against repealing the abortion-funding bill while all Republicans supported repeal.
When Congress passed the government-run health care bill, it did so without any limits on abortion funding and language mandating taxpayer financing of abortion in certain circumstances. Obama eventually issued a controversial executive order supposedly taking the abortion funding issue off the table.
However, virtually every pro-life group said it would not mitigate the abortion funding because it doesn’t have the effect of law, could be reversed in the future, and because it didn’t tackle much of the abortion funding in the bill. The Obama administration could also ignore the order and not put it in place when the health care law goes into effect.
Arizona, Tennessee, Mississippi, Missouri, and Louisiana have passed similar bills that have already been signed into law by governors in those states and several other states are expected to consider legislation in their upcoming legislative sessions. Governors in Oklahoma and Florida vetoed similar legislation.
Here’s a list of members of the U.S. House of Representatives of the 112th Congress who have signed on to the ACLJ brief including Rep. Paul Broun, a physician, who spearheaded the Member support for the brief: Paul Broun, Robert Aderholt, Todd Akin, Michele Bachmann, Spencer Bachus, Roscoe Bartlett, Rob Bishop, John Boehner, Larry Bucshon, Dan Burton, Francisco “Quico” Canseco, Eric Cantor, Steve Chabot, Mike Conaway, Blake Farenthold, John Fleming, Bill Flores, Randy Forbes, Virginia Foxx, Trent Franks, Scott Garrett, Louie Gohmert, Ralph Hall, Tim Huelskamp, Bill Johnson, Walter Jones, Mike Kelly, Steve King, Jack Kingston, John Kline, Doug Lamborn, Jeff Landry, James Lankford, Robert Latta, Donald Manzullo, Thaddeus McCotter, Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Gary Miller, Jeff Miller, Randy Neugebauer, Steve Pearce, Mike Pence, Joe Pitts, Mike Pompeo, Scott Rigell, Phil Roe, Ed Royce, Lamar Smith, and Tim Walberg.