Print Print
December 13, 2010 Published in Health & Fitness

Virginia Wins Federal Court Challenge Over Constitutionality Of Federal Health Care Act

Health Insurance Mandate is Unconstitutional

Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli announced today that the Commonwealth of Virginia won its lawsuit in federal court challenging the constitutionality of the federal health care act.   The attorney general asked the court to find that the health care mandate that every individual buy government-approved health insurance unconstitutional.

Federal District Court Judge Henry Hudson agreed with the attorney general and ruled today that the health insurance mandate is unconstitutional.

“Today we prevailed. This is a great day for the Constitution!  This won’t be the final round, as this will ultimately be decided by the Supreme Court, but today is a critical milestone in the protection of the Constitution,” said Cuccinelli.

Virginia argued that the mandate that every person must buy government-approved health insurance violates the Constitution and that using the Constitution’s Commerce Clause to force people to buy a product goes beyond Congress’s power.

“The insurance mandate penalizes people for not engaging in commerce.  In other words, you can get fined for doing nothing,” said Cuccinelli.

The judge agreed:

“The unchecked expansion of congressional power to the limits suggested by the Minimum Essential Coverage Provision would invite unbridled exercise of federal police powers.  At its core, this dispute is not simply about regulating the business of insurance – or crafting a scheme of universal health insurance coverage – it’s about an individual’s right to choose to participate.”

Virginia also argued that the penalty the government wants to charge if one does not buy health insurance is not a tax.  Virginia said that the government cannot call the penalty a tax to try to make it legal under Congress’s taxing authority.  Congress and the president called it a penalty and said it was not a tax; they passed it as a penalty, not a tax; it works as a penalty, not as a tax.  The judge again agreed with Virginia.

“When we brought suit back in March, media outlets and legal experts said we didn’t have a chance.  They accused us of everything from playing politics instead of practicing law, to filing a frivolous lawsuit.  They said our argument about constitutionality was in vain, that we relied on a controversial reading of the Constitution, and that we couldn’t prevail against the federal government,” said Cuccinelli.

“This ruling is extremely positive for anyone who believes in the system of federalism created by our Founding Fathers.  It underscores that the Constitution’s limitations on federal power mean something.  The rule of law means something.  As attorney general of Virginia, I took an oath to protect the Constitution, and I’m keeping that oath.”

Cuccinelli also recognized the need for reform in health care, but said that further government intrusion was the problem, not the answer:  “For the past nine months, we have been arguing the constitutionality of this law.  I have said all along that this lawsuit is not about health care.  It is about liberty.  At the same time, I understand that people want more affordable health care, and I sympathize with people who honestly can’t afford it.

“But as someone who has sworn to uphold the law, I cannot endorse taking away the rights of all so that government can provide health care to some.

“If we cross this constitutional line with health care now – where the government can force us to buy a private product and say it is for our own good – then we will have given the government the power to force us to buy other private products, such as cars, gym memberships, or even asparagus.  The government’s power to intrude on our lives for our own good will be virtually unlimited.

“You may be willing to put up with that now, when the government is doing something you like.  But what happens when it starts to impose things on you that you do not like?  Then, it will be too late.

“Yes, parts of our health care system need to be fixed.  Yes, expenses are out of control.  Yes, not everyone’s needs are being met.  But there are better solutions than giving up our freedom.  The problem with health care costs is not that there is not enough government involvement.  It is that there is too much government.  It is time we took the power out of the hands of the politicians and put it in the hands of the consumers,” he said.

Before the ruling came down, Cuccinelli initiated conversations with the Justice Department about fast-tracking the suit to the U.S. Supreme Court.  “With this ongoing court battle, there is a great deal of uncertainty for states, individuals, and businesses as to whether this law will be around two years from now or not.  We need this resolved as quickly as possible – for the good of our people and our economy,” said Cuccinelli.

The ruling is posted here.