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FreedomWorks recently published my 8 part series of blogs entitled The Constitutionality of Obama's Mandate. In the series, I examine whether or not the individual mandate included in the Democrats' government overhaul of the American health care system is constitutional. In my final installment, I conclude with the following assertion:
Throughout its history, the [federal court system] has held that the Commerce Clause grants Congress the ability to regulate “economic activity” or at very least activities that have substantial affect on economic activities. A federal mandate on insurance regulates existence. Being alive is not an “economic activity” or even an “activity” at all. Therefore, it remains outside of the regulatory powers granted to Congress by the Constitution.
No matter how we look at it, President Obama's individual mandate on health insurance is unconstitutional. And barring the abolition of the United States Constitution, the Supreme Court will opt to protect the natural rights of individuals by striking it down as such.
Earlier today, that assertion came one step closer to becoming a reality as a federal judge in Florida struck down the President's landmark healthcare overhaul as unconstitutional. Judge Roger Vinson is the second federal judge to rule that the individual mandate is outside Congress’ Commerce Clause power (the first being Virginia federal Judge Henry Hudson who came to the same conclusion last December). In his decision, Judge Vinson writes:
[T]he individual mandate falls outside the boundary of Congress’ Commerce Clause authority and cannot be reconciled with a limited government of enumerated powers.
Striking the mandate down as unconstitutional, the Judge also notes that the mere fact that health care reform is a unique and important issue does not mean that Congress possesses limitless authority when addressing it:
If Congress asserts power that exceeds its enumerated powers, then it is unconstitutional, regardless of the purported uniqueness of the context in which it is being asserted.
Calling the individual mandate on health insurance the "keystone or lynchpin of the entire health reform effort," Judge Vinson's ruling goes a step further than Judge Hudson's ruling in the Virginia case which struck down the mandate but upheld the rest of the law. Vinson writes:
Because the individual mandate is unconstitutional and not severable, the entire Act must be declared void... In accordance with Rule 57 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and Title 28, United States Code, Section 2201(a), a Declaratory Judgment shall be entered separately, declaring “The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” unconstitutional.
Judge Vinson's decision earlier today is in complete agreement with the argument that FreedomWorks and other small government conservative groups laid out long before the health care bill was signed into law. In November of 2009, FreedomWorks Vice President of Public Policy Max Pappas and I argued that the mandate was unconstitutional in our publication Top 10 Reasons to Oppose Nancy Pelosi's Takeover of Health Care. At the time, we too cited the Commerce Clause limitations that would be destroyed if such a law was upheld:
Giving Congress the ability to force citizens to buy a certain product eliminates every restraint put in place by our nation’s founders and imposes upon the liberties that our government was established to defend.
A few months later in February of 2010, FreedomWorks President and CEO Matt Kibbe urged the members of the House of Representatives to support a resolution that would have eliminated entirely the mandate from the health care reform bill. He wrote:
Given the fact that Congress has no Constitutional authority to force individuals to purchase health insurance, the federal mandate included in current health care reform legislation should be removed immediately... [The mandate] imposes upon the liberties that our government was established to defend. A mandate on insurance will fundamentally change our great nation. America will cease to be a country made up of free people who choose their own destiny and will become a country in which the government controls the destiny of individuals. Such a shift is unacceptable, unconscionable and a complete perversion of the liberties our founders fought and died to protect.
At the time our pleas fell on deaf ears as the Democrat-controlled Congress rammed through their partisan health care legislation which President Obama later signed into law. But with the two landmark court decisions being handed down in Virginia and now Florida, there is new hope that the American court system may correct the unconstitutional wrong-doing of elitist politicians. The legislation will undoubtedly end up before the Supreme Court and, as I concluded in my series of mandate blogs, so long as the Court does not dismiss the Constitution entirely, it will come to the same conclusion that Judge Vinson, Judge Hudson, the American founders and the millions of freedom-loving, small government citizens across the country have already realized:
A federal mandate that forces individual Americans to purchase health insurance simply because they exist is oppressive, unconstitutional and must be struck down.