Health Law Ruled Unconstitutional

The Wall Street Journal has the story:

“A federal court ruled Monday that a central plank of the health law violates the Constitution, dealing the biggest setback yet to the Obama administration’s signature legislative accomplishment.

“In a 42-page ruling, U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson said the law’s requirement that most Americans carry insurance or pay a penalty ‘exceeds the constitutional boundaries of congressional power.’

“The individual mandate ‘would invite unbridled exercise of federal police powers,’ wrote Judge Hudson, of the Eastern District of Virginia. ‘At its core, this dispute is not simply about regulating the business of insurance—or crafting a scheme of universal health insurance coverage—it’s about an individual’s right to choose to participate.'”

If this ruling stands, it would undermine the Health Reform bill that was passed earlier this year. Read the rest here.


  • S. Daniel Owens

    While I am definitely for health reform I think the right call was made here. They need to rethink how this is going to work…

  • Mitch

    It’s interesting that so many convervatives are cheering for this ruling. If you think about it, the minimum essential coverage provision (the part of PPACA that requires individuals to buy health insurance) should be seen as good policy by most conservatives. Here is a law that basically says “you have to buy health insurance because you’re going to need health care some day and, if you are just uninsured, then the rest of us will (most likely through our tax dollars) have to come up with a way to pay for your care.” Even though other aspects of this law clearly strike at the heart of conservative, pro-business ideology, the coverage requirement should really resonate with conservatives who embrace personal responsibility and not having to pay other people’s way. I guess it just goes to show you that some people will support and believe whatever they’re told to support and believe by their favorite spin doctors.

  • Paul

    Mitch – let’s make this even funnier…

    Judges strike down laws that ban gay marriage, and those judges are activist judges that are distorting the law through their judgements. But, if it makes business play more fairly, then, well, then it’s just judges doing their job.

    More hypocrisy from the right. They don’t love this country. They only love their wallets. Or, even worse, they only love the wallets they’re told to love.

  • Charlton Connett

    As another possibility of why conservatives (of which I consider myself one) do not like this law, and cheer about any part of it being struck down, may I submit to you that the concern is not with wallets or money, but the fundamental idea of a nation of laws? That is, we, as a nation, have a “law of the land” that is laid out in the U.S. Constitution. Any law, regardless of the personal good I may experience, or the pro-business, or pro-whatever effect of the law, that violates this constitution is a bad law in that it undermines the foundation of law in the country as a whole. Therefore, those laws which we find to be unconstitutional we cheer at being struck down, not because we necessarily dislike what the law will do, but because the law ought not to exist in the first place. There are many more reasons we could lay out as to why conservatives may cheer this law being struck down, but the concept of constitutionality alone is sufficient.

  • Darius

    Thanks, Paul, for that. You’re never one to be light on vitriol.

    Mitch, the reason conservatives shouldn’t be for the provision in question is it strikes at the heart of something that makes this country great: our liberty. I don’t think people who don’t want to buy something should be forced to buy it (liability auto insurance is the obvious exception). Sure, you make a good point about everyone having to pay for those who don’t have insurance… which is why true conservatives don’t agree with the law that forces hospitals to care for those who can’t pay. Get rid of that terrible law first.

  • Paul

    “Sure, you make a good point about everyone having to pay for those who don’t have insurance… which is why true conservatives don’t agree with the law that forces hospitals to care for those who can’t pay. Get rid of that terrible law first.”

    Translation: poor people don’t deserve to live.

    More hypocrisy! Be pro-life, but then only provide the means to live to those that can afford it.

    Darius, I really do like you, and you’re one of the few conservatives that I really enjoy tussling with, because you actually think through (most of) your arguments, but even you have to see the swiss cheese defense of this one…

  • RD

    Ditto (can I use that term?) to both Mitch and Paul. I think your comments are dead on.

    Darius, can I ask why you feel that the mandated purchase of automobile liability insurance is an acceptable “obvious exception”?

  • Darius

    Paul, I didn’t say they shouldn’t be treated. I said let hospitals figure out how to pay for them rather than force them to treat everyone. Imagine being forced to play music for anyone who walked into your home because you’re a musician…

    Let hospitals and charities raise the money necessary to cover poor people or those without insurance. What we should really be doing is fixing the health care system so that the prices aren’t so astronomical and make them affordable to people who don’t have insurance.

    RD, because liability insurance keeps people from walking away from an accident that was their fault without having to cover the damages they caused. Of course, one could say that there would still be the recourse of a lawsuit for the “victim,” but can you imagine how tied up our legal system would be if most people relied on it to settle traffic accident disputes? Liability insurance solves that problem. If you want to drive a car (which isn’t a human right) on public roads, you have to pay for insurance. Health care is very different than this. If I get sick without health insurance, I’m not hurting anyone else (except the taxpayer potentially because of the aforementioned stupid law), just myself.

  • Paul

    “Paul, I didn’t say they shouldn’t be treated. I said let hospitals figure out how to pay for them rather than force them to treat everyone.”

    And so how should the hospitals pay for the now necessary charitable giving arm of their organization? I can’t imagine the added cost of a foundation to handle the solicitation of donations to most hospitals. And hospitals in low-income areas? Forget about it. They’d never see return on investment.

    Sometimes, we just have to be our brothers’ keepers, no matter how much Ayn Rand might disagree.

  • Charlton Connett

    Just because a thing exists and is useful, even necessary, for extending life, does not mean everyone has a right to claim that thing.

    The problem is that medical treatment is a necessary service. It is necessary in that not receiving treatment would result in someone dying. But, it is also a service, which means that someone must use their labor (or money, which effectively derives to labor) to provide said medical care. To be compelled to provide the service without recompense reduces the provider to slavery. To be compelled to pay for services provided to someone else reduces the payer to slavery.

    Thus we enter into a realm of moral difficulty: do we accept that people should have access to what they need to survive and impose slavery on those who provide the needs? Or do we accept that in appealing to charity we allow that some people will die of want? My answer, as I stated in the first line, is that no one has a right to that which they need, just because they need it. Rights cannot be derived at the expense of imposing my will on others without resulting in some form of slavery. If I impose my will on others and reduce them to slavery then I treat others as the means to my happiness, not as unique and deservedly free moral agents in and of themselves.

    Just as we appeal to charity to assist in providing for food, housing, and clothing, all of which are basic needs, so too we ought to appeal to charity for the sake of medical needs. We ought to appeal to charity not only because charity is (broadly speaking) much more efficient than government imposition, but also because it allows us to treat all individuals as free moral agents. While we should care for our brothers, and make a point of living like the good Samaritan, such a goal cannot be achieved through imposition of law. To require everyone to pay for the care of their neighbor, whether they want to or not, is not a principle found in Scripture. To voluntarily give sacrificially for the care of the poor and needy is.

  • RD

    Charlton, my friend, you’ve made some eloquent points.

    Why is it constitutional that we be required to pay taxes? To pay into Social Security? To pay for auto-liability insurance? (Paul, I read your arguments for auto-liability coverage, but why should it matter if responsible drivers purchase their own insurance AND have uninsured motorist coverage? The “state” doesn’t need to watch out for me!!! I’m covered.)

  • Donald Johnson

    The state has the power to compel and this means the state should be limited in its powers.

    In the US we pay more (much more) to get less health care than in most of Europe and this by almost any method of ranking health. The very wealthy can afford the very best health care where ever they might live.

    An argument MIGHT be made that a way to save money AND have better overall national health would be to do something similar to a European country, but I am not sure this is poltically possible in the USA.

  • Charlton Connett


    It is both moral and legal to require citizens to pay taxes because there are reasonable functions of governance that require money. (Providing for the protection of individual rights, and the enforcement of laws, along with common defense all immediately come to mind.) In addition to that, if people are willing to pay additional taxes because they want government to provide some service (such as paving streets) then such laws are totally legal, so long as they do not violate the constitution (such as the federal government regulating local, non-interstate businesses). My opinion is that Social Security is an overreach on the part of the federal government. However, the U.S. Supreme court has disagreed with me, therefore I am bound, biblically and constitutionally, to obey the government in regard to that tax. Likewise with all taxes.

    I think Darius laid out a good explanation for auto-liability insurance. I would only add in addition to this that such laws are state mandated, not federal laws (to my knowledge). Thus the question of auto-liability insurance is a matter of what a state has a right to require, not a matter of federal constitutionality. So long as a state’s constitution allows that state to require auto-liability insurance, then it is legal.

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