In a move that should have come as a surprise to almost no one, the 11th Circuit Court has struck down the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (alias “ObamaCare”), ruling it unconstitutional. This has the grand effect of… well, nothing, as we all knew that it would eventually end up in the Supreme Court anyway, and this was the final hoop it had to jump through to get there.There were several such suits working their way up the Courts, but the one involved today was the one that was backed by the Attorneys General of 26 states.
The first ruling in this case said that the individual mandate was unconstitutional. Further, the judge ruled that the way the law was written meant that the individual mandate could not be struck down by itself, but was inseparable from the rest of the law, so it all had to go. The appeal from that one was today, and the court agreed with half the judge’s ruling: the individual mandate was bad. However, they said that they could separate that part of the law and leave the rest standing.
So now it heads to the Supreme Court. As we all knew it would.
The individual mandate is, to me, the most offensive to the Constitution. The argument in favor of it derives from the Commerce Clause, where Congress has the ability to regulate interstate commerce. This is aided and abetted by the “Necessary and Proper” clause, which says Congress can pass other laws that are needed to carry out other powers.
The fundamental question is whether Congress has the right to demand, under penalty of law, that every single citizen and resident of the nation engage in a commercial arrangement with a private entity simply for the privilege of living in this country. As noted in several other arguments, the application of the Commerce Clause implies that there is no limit on the powers of the federal government, for an argument — no matter how specious — can be made that, in this day and age, every single action or inaction somehow could theoretically affect “interstate commerce.”
For example, if I wanted to download some porn, I might choose to do so through a pay site that is not located in New Hampshire. Even if I decided to settle for the free stuff, I have still “affected interstate commerce” because I have chosen to NOT give money to an out-of-state company. So therefore my decision on whether or not to gratify myself this evening is a Constitutionally-regulated matter, subject to regulation and control by Congress.
So now it finally goes to the Supreme Court. And the question of whether or not there is any kind of limit on the power of the Federal Government will get settled.