A Federal District Court in Michigan has issued the nation’s first ruling on the constitutionality of the ObamaCare health insurance mandate that forces all Americans to be insured by 2014 or face fines and the withholding of income tax refund payments by the IRS.
Naturally U.S. District Judge George Steeh cited the Commerce Clause for the basis of his ruling, which stopped a preliminary injunction against the mandate. He noted in his ruling, “The Supreme Court has consistently rejected claims that individuals who choose not to engage in commerce thereby place themselves beyond the reach of the Commerce Clause.“
Writing at Outside The Beltway, Doug Mataconis explains,
Based on the current state of Commerce Clause jurisprudence, which goes back to a case called Wickard v. Fillburn in which the New Deal era Court held that a farmer growing wheat on his own farm for his own use could still be subject to regulations of the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1938, this is not at all a surprising decision. In fact, it’s fairly clear that if the mandate is to be declared unconstitutional, it would require a Court to determine that 6o-plus years of Commerce Clause case law was wrongly decided. That isn’t something that Court’s do on a whim, and even a Justice like Antonin Scalia is unlikely to throw out a half century’s worth of case law without a very good reason.
Since this is a lower-level Federal Court, Judge Steeh’s decision will not be considered binding precedent. Obviously this case is headed for the appeals courts, and will very likely make its way to the Supreme Court.
(Here in Oklahoma, you must purchase health insurance from a company licensed by the state as an Oklahoma insurance provider. I wonder how “interstate commerce” affects this arrangement? Does this mean that inter-state health insurance sales could now be mandated by the Supreme Court?)