Plaintiff-Appellee Briefs Filed in Florida


By Hadley Heath

One of the most important – if not the most important – health care lawsuit is Florida v. DHHS.  The state of Florida, 25 other states, the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), and two individuals are the plaintiffs who won big in Pensacola’s federal district court when Judge Roger Vinson ruled on January 31 that the entirety of ObamaCare was unconstitutional.  Obviously the defendants (the federal government) were not pleased with this result, and had to appeal this decision.  The slow, grinding wheel of justice has finally brought us to the start of an exciting summer in appellate courts.

Today the Florida plaintiffs (now "Plaintiff-Appellees") filed two briefs in response to the appeal in the Eleventh Circuit.  Law scholars are weighing in:

From Stephen Presser (Raoul Berger Professor of Legal History, Northwestern University School of Law, Professor of Business Law, Kellogg School of Management):

This brief [by the private Plaintiff-Appellees], like the one on which I was an amicus in the same case, argues, essentially, that if Congress can pass this Act, there are no limits to Congressional power.  Since our framers took pains to ensure that ours is a federal government of limited and enumerated powers, a holding that this Act is within Congress's powers would fundamentally alter the shape of our government, and, as the NFIB understands, in a manner that would be devastating to small business in particular and to liberty in general.  The friends of the Constitution, of limited government, and of liberty will hope that the Eleventh Circuit will be receptive to the arguments in this fine brief.

From Ilya Shapiro (Senior Fellow in Constitutional Studies, Editor-in-Chief of the Cato Supreme Court Review, Cato Institute):

These two briefs, one by 26 states and one by the private co-plaintiffs in that same Florida case (the National Federation of Independent Business and two individuals) present a full-throated defense of the basic principle upon which this country was founded: that the federal government is one of enumerated and limited powers whose primary goal is to preserve liberty.  They describe exhaustively why that government cannot require people to buy goods or services as a means of regulating interstate commerce and why therefore the unprecedented individual mandate goes beyond what the Constitution authorizes.  Indeed, forcing people to buy health insurance is neither a regulation of interstate commerce nor a constitutionally appropriate means of achieving such regulation.  If the Eleventh Circuit takes these arguments seriously, and adheres to the truism that the Constitution provides fixed limits on federal power, then the “linchpin” of Obamacare is doomed.  Any ruling to the contrary—allowing the individual mandate to stand—would unleash an entirely novel and unbounded conception of federal power.

Oral arguments in this case will be heard June 8 in Atlanta.  

Update: Below are PDF's of the briefs.

States' Brief

Private Plaintiffs' Brief


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