The Lawsuits Are "Heating Up"


By Hadley Heath

This fall, while temperatures are dropping outdoors, the legal challenges to health care reform are just warming up.  So far, the media spotlight has been on the two cases that involve states as Plaintiffs: the Virginia case and the Florida case.  But this week USA Today is running a lengthy story from Kaiser Health News that recognizes the wide span of cases across the country, and the involvement of many various Plaintiffs.  From the article:

In attacking the law in the courts, Sissel [of Sissel v. DHHS] has plenty of company. A number of interest groups, state officials and ordinary citizens are seeking to have the health care law struck down in federal court, and action is heating up.

Who knew a law could evoke challenges from so many different groups? Doctors groups, business groups, religious groups, and “ordinary citizens” as Plaintiffs all have one thing in common: They care deeply about following the guidelines set forth in the Constitution.  They believe the health care reform of March 2010 violates those guidelines.  And they won’t rest until their rights are considered before the Supreme Court.

And that’s exactly where it looks like this battle is headed – SCOTUS.  Sooner or later, one of these 20+ cases (or perhaps a case that is yet to be filed), will make it there.  And when the time comes for all Americans to tune in and wait for a decision, you’ll want to know what issues are at stake.

The story in USA Today says the Constitutional issues in the cases are pretty similar:

In many cases, the lawsuits make similar arguments. Several contend, for example, that a provision of the law requiring most people without health insurance to get coverage or pay a penalty exceeds the power of Congress to regulate interstate commerce under the Constitution.

This is true.  Many of the cases focus in on the individual mandate.  But most of the Complaints (trust me, I’ve read them all) list multiple counts that include a variety of Constitutional violations in the health reform law. 

On the day of his inauguration, Barack Obama said, “The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small but whether it works.”  I believe that the Plaintiffs who bring these cases against the health reform law would ask this question: Does it work within the parameters of the U.S. Constitution

It’s better to hear the arguments of these cases and come to an informed, Constitution-based decision than to rush to support (or oppose) the legislation on political grounds.  While the emotions and energy attached to these lawsuits run hot, let’s keep our heads cool and remember the great authority and great history of the U.S. Constitution.  Any potential violation of it is to be weighed seriously.


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