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Monday, October 2, 2023


States right to pursue suit over mandate

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli is one of several AGs around the country who have filed suit against the government over the constitutionality of the health care bill. | Courtesy of cuccinelli.com

While progressives in Washington, D.C. celebrate the passage of sweeping health care legislation, attorney generals around the country are questioning its constitutionality.

Their main issue with the legislation is the requirement that individuals purchase health insurance or face financial penalties.

For more than 230 years, the government has never forced its citizens to purchase anything, as there is no provision in the Constitution that grants the Congress this authority.

Shailagh Murray reported in Monday’s edition of The Washington Post that as of 2014, individuals who do not have health insurance would be charged fines of no less than $750.

Attorney generals from at least 14 states have filed lawsuits since President Barack Obama signed the bill into law Monday contesting the authority of Congress to require citizens to purchase health insurance.

“The top state lawyers in Florida, South Carolina, Nebraska, Texas, Michigan, Utah, Pennsylvania, Alabama, South Dakota, Louisiana, Idaho, Washington and Colorado joined in the complaint filed immediately after the president’s signing ceremony,” Pete Williams of MSNBC.com reported Tuesday.

Williams only mentioned 13 states; Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli opted to file a separate lawsuit, as Virginia law states, “No resident of this Commonwealth … shall be required to obtain or maintain a policy of individual insurance coverage.” This statute gives Cuccinelli the unique ability to challenge the federal law as it is in direct conflict with that of the state.

Those who support the legislation’s authority say the law is protected under the commerce clause of the Constitution, which grants the government the authority to “regulate commerce.” This clause states that once an individual engages in commerce, Congress can then regulate those activities.

It is not only a stretch to say that this clause gives the government authority to require the purchase of goods and services against the will of the people, but approaches the realm of encroaching on all Americans’ freedoms.

In the past, it has been true that judgment tends to fall on the side of federal law, yet the unconstitutional expansion of the commerce clause has left many opponents to the legislation confident that their case is strong. If Congress’ authority to regulate is subject to individuals’ participation in commerce, how can the government then require, in the form of mandated participation, the purchase of goods and services?

It is important to recognize that precedent is a fundamental aspect of the U.S. judicial system, and that by further expanding Congress’ authority to regulate by mandate, we are opening the door to a new era of government intervention and regulation of our lives.

As Americans, we have the right to a government that remains within the confines of the Constitution.

By granting this authority, we are taking a big step away from our country’s constitutional tradition.

Jason Cutbirth is a UH junior and may be reached at [email protected]

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