Thursday, September 8, 2011

Next stop for the Healthcare Mandate: the Supreme Court

Today, the 4th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals decided that the State of Virginia lacked the necessary standing to bring suit against the Federal Government for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care. Consequently, the Court vacated the ruling of the lower district court in Virginia.

There was never much doubt that this issue would end up before SCOTUS, and this ruling pretty much seals the deal.

But the decision--a lack of standing--is interesting and, I think, ultimately quite correct. The 4th Circuit held that because the Act imposes no obligation on the State itself, but only on the individual, the State lacked standing to file the suit to begin with. The State attempted to establish standing by citing a conflict of the Act with a state law, but as the Court rightly noted, that law was passed after the Act.

Of course, past decisions by Courts of Appeals and the Supreme Court itself have revolved around standing and it should be interesting to see if those who saw such rulings as "cop-outs," so to speak, feel the same about this, as well as to see if those that saw such rulings as correct maintain that view here.

All that said, I still firmly hold that the Act--and in particular the individual mandate--is unconstitutional and that the SCOTUS will come to the same conclusion.

Cato's amicus brief on the Virginia lawsuit, for those interested. Their conclusion:
For the first time in American history, the federal government has attempted to “commandeer the people” by imposing on them an “economic mandate.” Such economic mandates cannot be justified by existing Supreme Court doctrines defining and limiting the powers of Congress. Upholding the power to impose economic mandates “would fundamentally alter the relationship of the federal government to the states and the people; nobody would ever again be able to claim plausibly that the Constitution limits federal power.”
Yep. Exactly right.

Cheers, all.

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