WASHINGTON, D.C., November 22, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – More than 60 U.S. Congressmen have joined the legal fight against the national health care reform law signed by President Barack Obama. The law has been criticized by pro-life groups for creating the potential for massive federal funding of abortion, as well as for the individual mandate that may force some to pay into insurance plans that subsidize abortion.
On Friday, the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) filed an amicus brief with the U.S. district court in Pensacola on behalf of 63 US members of Congress and 70,000 individual U.S. citizens. The brief supports the lawsuit filed in Florida against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) by 20 states’ attorneys general. It argues the PPACA’s individual mandate – that all U.S. citizens carry health insurance or pay a fine – violates the US Constitution.
“The requirement forcing Americans to purchase health insurance under penalty of law represents an unprecedented expansion of federal power which threatens individual liberty,” said Jay Sekulow, Chief Counsel of the ACLJ. “It’s our hope that the legal challenges – coupled with a growing sentiment in Congress to derail the health care law – will ensure that ObamaCare is never implemented.”
U.S. District Judge Robert Vinson for the Northern District of Florida allowed interested parties a window of one week to submit amicus briefs to the legal challenge led by Florida AG Bill McCollum against the PPACA.
Vinson ruled back in October that the states had established “a plausible claim that the line has been crossed” between what Congress can and cannot do under the U.S. Constitution. The judge ordered the case to go to trial, above the objections of the federal government.
The case has a trial date scheduled for December 16.
The ACLJ brief contends that “interpreting the commerce power to enable Congress to force American citizens to purchase health insurance would place Americans’ economic liberty in serious jeopardy.”
It goes onto say that if the law is upheld as constitutional, nothing would limit Congress’s authority under the commerce clause solely to mandate health insurance purchases, “because every purchasing decision may have a rippling effect on interstate commerce.”
“Upholding the individual mandate would effectively confer upon Congress ‘a plenary police power,’ … over all individual economic decisions and place Americans’ economic liberty at risk,” it asserts.
The ACLJ brief represents 63 Members of the U.S. House of Representatives, led by Rep. Paul Broun, M.D., and includes such pro-life names as incoming House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, incoming Republican Conference Chairman Jeb Hensarling, Reps. Trent Franks, Michele Bachmann, Ron Paul, Mike Pence, Joe Pitts, Tom Price, Pete Sessions, Joe Wilson, and more.
GOP Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell also submitted his own amicus brief supporting McCollum’s suit, warning that the PPACA would lead to a massive expansion of federal power over individual citizens and render the limitations of the U.S. Constitution’s commerce clause essentially meaningless.
“If the individual mandate is deemed constitutional, there will no longer be any limit on Congress’s power to regulate its citizens under the Commerce Clause,” McConnell’s brief stated. “Congress’s specific power under that Clause will be transformed into a general police power, all but eliminating the distinction between federal and state regulatory authority in our federal union.”
The ACLJ also has a separate case challenging the PPACA’s individual mandate filed in federal court in Washington, D.C. and another amicus brief supporting the lawsuit filed by AG Ken Cucinnelli in defense of a Virginia law that protects individuals from being forced to buy health insurance. That suit is pending in federal court in Richmond.
All legal challenges to the PPACA are expected to end up before the U.S. Supreme Court.