Pro-Life Legal Group Wants Appeals Court to Strike Obamacare

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jul 25, 2011   |   12:16PM   |   Washington, DC

A pro-life legal group handling one of the many lawsuits filed against Obamacare, which funds abortions and presents rationing concerns, is asking a federal appeals court to strike down the government-run program.

The American Center for Law and Justice today filed papers with a federal appeals court to reinstate its lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Obamacare, saying its position is “grounded in the Constitution” along with Supreme Court precedent. In a reply brief filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, the ACLJ contends the arguments put forth by the Obama Administration’s Department of Justice “lack support in the text, history, or related Supreme Court jurisprudence of the Commerce or Necessary and Proper Clauses” of the U.S. Constitution.

“We look forward to presenting our arguments before the appeals court in September and remain confident that our lawsuit challenging ObamaCare will be reinstated,” said Jay Sekulow, the pro-life legal group’s chief counsel. “The Constitution and Supreme Court precedent are clear: the health care law oversteps the authority of Congress. The individual mandate, requiring Americans to purchase health insurance, is at the heart of this law. It is constitutionally flawed and we believe ultimately will render the entire health care law unconstitutional.”

The ACLJ’s reply brief rejects the Justice Department’s position that the individual mandate is constitutionally permissible under the Commerce Clause.

It also argues the individual mandate is unconstitutional: “There is no American tradition of forcing unwilling individuals to operate a business or buy a good or service in the name of ‘regulating commerce,’ and it is not a coincidence that the Supreme Court’s Commerce Clause cases upholding regulation under the ‘substantial effects’ test have involved the regulation of ongoing commercial or economic activities, unlike Section 1501. Nothing in law or logic supports Defendants’ novel extension of this federal regulatory authority to mere inaction, decisions, or thought processes that relate to an economic topic.”

“Defendants’ arguments based on the Commerce and Necessary and Proper Clauses are flawed and lack legal support,” the brief asserts.

The ACLJ also contends that the Department of Justice has done nothing to demonstrate that the constitutional rights of two of the plaintiffs have not been violated by the individual mandate provision under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).

The reply brief contends: “Defendants have not shown that Plaintiffs Lee and Seven-Sky failed to sufficiently allege that Section 1501 substantially burdens their religious exercise, nor have Defendants shown that the individual mandate, as applied to Lee and Seven-Sky, is the least restrictive means of furthering a compelling governmental interest.”

In its initial brief filed in May urging the appeals court to reverse a lower court decision, the ACLJ argues: “The individual mandate is unconstitutional because it exceeds even the outermost bounds of Congress’s Article I authority and is inconsistent with the constitutional system of dual sovereignty that divides power between the federal and State governments,” the brief contends. “Under the Commerce Clause, Congress cannot ‘regulate’ inactivity by requiring individuals to buy a good or service as a condition of their lawful residence in the United States. . . .”

In February, a federal district court dismissed the ACLJ’s lawsuit challenging ObamaCare in which the ACLJ represents four U.S. residents and federal taxpayers:  Susan Seven-Sky from New York, and three Texas residents – Charles “Eddie” Lee, Kenneth Ruffo, and Gina Rodriguez.

The federal appeals court is scheduled to hear oral arguments in the case on September 23.