Officially, it is no longer the law of the land. That
means more than anyone is letting on.
As of this moment Obamacare is officially not the law of the land. As Federal Judge Roger Vinson ruled on Monday in Florida, “[T]here is a long standing presumption that officials of the Executive Branch will adhere to the law as declared by the court. As a result, the declaratory judgment is the functional equivalent of an injunction.” That law as declared by the Federal District Court in Florida is now that Obamacare is unconstitutional.
This, of course, is the second federal court ruling that Obamacare is unconstitutional, following the ruling of Judge Henry Hudson in the Northern District of Virginia on December 13. I predicted in this space at the time that Judge Vinson would rule the same. Now he has. I filed amicus curiae briefs in both cases on behalf of the American Civil Rights Union arguing for these results. Those briefs drew on my work in The Obamacare Disaster: An Appraisal of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, published by the Heartland Institute.
Recall former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi laughing off Tea Party objections that Obamacare was unconstitutional with the reply, “Are you serious? Are you serious?” Now she knows just how serious we were.
Limits to Federal Power
Judge Vinson’s ruling, as Judge Hudson’s before him, represents a return to the original Constitution of limited enumerated powers delegated by the people to the federal government. Vinson opens his decision quoting James Madison in the Federalist Papers explaining, “The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite,” noting further that “the Tenth Amendment reaffirmed that relationship.”
Vinson goes on to explain that the reason for that is to “ensure protection of our fundamental liberties” and “reduce the risk of tyranny and abuse.” He goes on to quote the ultimate explanation again from James Madison in The Federalist Papers:
If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.
The enumerated power claimed by Congress for Obamacare was the Commerce Clause, which grants Congress the power “To regulate Commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian Tribes.” Trade among the states was mentioned so Congress would have the power to eliminate the protectionist trade restrictions and barriers that had been erected among the states against trade with each other. Eliminating those protectionist trade barriers is a fundamental reason for the long term, world leading prosperity of America. This is the original reason for the Commerce Clause, not to allow abominations like Obamacare.
But this was dramatically changed during the New Deal to allow Congress to affirmatively regulate interstate commerce based on the language of the Commerce Clause, and neither Judge Vinson nor Judge Hudson challenged that change. But more recent Supreme Court decisions have reaffirmed that there are still limits to Congress’s power to regulate under the Commerce Clause. Both Judge Vinson and Judge Hudson have now ruled that the individual mandate in Obamacare exceeds those limits.
Obamacare’s individual mandate requires all individuals without employer-provided health insurance to buy insurance with all the politically correct and expensive coverage the government dictates they must buy. But as Judge Vinson noted, ” (essentially for life) just for being alive and residing in the United States.” Every prior regulation upheld as constitutional under the Commerce Clause involved some activity that could be construed as participation in interstate commerce. But failure to buy health insurance involves no such activity, and no participation in interstate commerce at all.
As a result, Judge Vinson concluded:
It would be a radical departure from existing case law to hold that Congress can regulate inactivity under the Commerce Clause. If it has the power to compel an otherwise passive individual into a commercial transaction with a third party merely by asserting…that compelling the actual transaction is itself commercial and economic in nature, and substantially affects interstate commerce…it is not hyperbolizing to suggest that Congress could do almost anything it wanted.
Then in words that will be memorialized on future Tea Party walls, Vinson wrote:
It is difficult to imagine that a nation which began, at least in part, as the result of opposition to a British mandate giving the East India Company a monopoly and imposing a nominal tax on all tea sold in America would have set out to create a government with the power to force people to buy tea in the first place.
Judge Vinson consequently ruled, “If Congress can penalize a passive individual for failing to engage in commerce, the enumeration of powers in the Constitution would have been in vain for it would be difficult to perceive any limitation on federal power.”
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?