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Excerpts from Today's Obamacare Ruling

6:47 PM, Jan 31, 2011 • By JEFFREY H. ANDERSON
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Here are excerpts from Judge Vinson’s 78-page opinion, in which he ruled (1) that Obamacare’s individual mandate is unconstitutional and (2) that since the individual mandate is “the keystone or lynchpin” of the entire act, upon its removal the entire 2,700-page act must be invalidated.

[T]his case is not about whether the Act is wise or unwise legislation, or whether it will solve or exacerbate the myriad problems in our health care system. In fact, it is not really about our health care system at all. It is principally about our federalist system, and it raises very important issues regarding the Constitutional role of the federal government…. 

[A]ll of the plaintiffs challenge the “individual mandate” set forth in Section 1501 of the Act, which, beginning in 2014 will require that everyone (with certain limited exceptions) purchase federally-approved health insurance, or pay a monetary penalty….I previously rejected the defendants’ argument that this penalty was really a tax, and that any challenge thereto was barred by the Anti-Injunction Act…. 

The Constitutionality of the individual mandate is the crux of this entire case….

[A]s Congress’ attorneys in the Congressional Research Service (“CRS”) and Congressional Budget Office (“CBO”) advised long before the Act was passed into law, the notion of Congress having the power under the Commerce Clause to directly impose an individual mandate to purchase health care insurance is “novel” and “unprecedented….”

Never before has Congress required that everyone buy a product from a private company…just for being alive and residing in the United States….

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 -- as was done in the Act -- that compelling the actual transaction is itself “commercial and economic in nature, and substantially affects interstate commerce” [see Act § 1501(a)(1)], it is not hyperbolizing to suggest that Congress could do almost anything it wanted. 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….

I conclude that the individual mandate seeks to regulate economic inactivity, which is the very opposite of economic activity. And because activity is required under the Commerce Clause, the individual mandate exceeds Congress’ commerce power, as it is understood, defined, and applied in the existing Supreme Court case law….

The Necessary and Proper Clause provides that Congress shall have the power: To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof….The Supreme Court has repeatedly held, and the emphasized text makes clear, that the Clause is not an independent source of federal power; rather, it is simply “a caveat that the Congress possesses all the means necessary to carry out the specifically granted ‘foregoing’ powers of [section] 8 ‘and all other Powers vested by this Constitution.’ [It] is ‘but merely a declaration, for the removal of all uncertainty, that the means of carrying into execution those (powers) otherwise granted are included in the grant….’”

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