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Judge Declares Federal Healthcare Plan (Partly) Unconstitutional

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the urge-us-to-go-and-buy dept.

Government 1505

healeyb writes "In a surprise move, US District Judge Henry E. Hudson issued a ruling today that the universal healthcare law that was pushed through by the Obama administration is unconstitutional. Specifically, he invalidated the section of the law that requires all citizens to purchase healthcare insurance, arguing that it does not fall under the purview of Commerce Clause of the Constitution, as has been asserted by the government. The ruling represents the first major setback for President Barack Obama on an issue that will likely end up at the Supreme Court. Two other courts have shot down challenges to the law."

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Filed by Ken Cuccinelli (5, Informative)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 3 years ago | (#34536802)

The same guy that went after Michael Mann [slashdot.org] and others [slashdot.org] after it was thrown out [slashdot.org] . He's a young Republican with an agenda [wikipedia.org] that he's forcing down everyone's throat since day one. From trying to change the state seal (it has a mammary in it!) to just stating that "Homosexuality is wrong."

I'm not saying he's right or wrong in this matter (the judge seemed to agree with him) but he's one of those guys [huffingtonpost.com] and he's a state Attorney General for Virginia pushing his conservative agenda to a national level.

Re:Filed by Ken Cuccinelli (5, Insightful)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 3 years ago | (#34536856)

Yes but we need those guys. We need the flaming crazies that will go to court and FORCE the judges to look at every little issue and say, "No, stfu," or "Holy hell how did this get to be law?!" We NEED someone to challenge every little thing the government does and make the one balance we have-- the courts-- stand up and tell the executive and legislative branch where to shove it when they overstep their bounds.

What we don't need is these people becoming judges or congressmen.

Re:Filed by Ken Cuccinelli (4, Insightful)

Tetsujin (103070) | more than 3 years ago | (#34536872)

The same guy that went after Michael Mann [slashdot.org] and others [slashdot.org] after it was thrown out [slashdot.org] . He's a young Republican with an agenda [wikipedia.org] that he's forcing down everyone's throat since day one. From trying to change the state seal (it has a mammary in it!) to just stating that "Homosexuality is wrong."

Damn those activist judges!

Re:Filed by Ken Cuccinelli (1, Interesting)

Moridineas (213502) | more than 3 years ago | (#34536878)

I'm not saying he's right or wrong in this matter (the judge seemed to agree with him) but he's one of those guys and he's a state Attorney General for Virginia pushing his conservative agenda to a national level.

Isn't that the exact definition of ad hominem?

Judge Hudson: gracious and professional (1)

MillionthMonkey (240664) | more than 3 years ago | (#34536972)

From the Washington Post: [washingtonpost.com]

Jonathan Shapiro, a Fairfax defense attorney who first met Hudson when the two attended law school at American University, called him "gracious" and "professional," although he said he's always found Hudson to be a conservative thinker who tends to side with the government against criminal defendants.

In a 1983 Washington Post profile of Hudson, Shapiro recalled that he and Hudson were enrolled in a class called "Legal Problems of the Poor."

"I got the impression he thought it was supposed to be 'Giving Legal Problems to the Poor,' " Shapiro said then.

Shapiro remembers the quote now with a laugh. Hudson never seemed to hold the quip against him, he said.

See, he doesn't always rule against the government.

Re:Filed by Ken Cuccinelli (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34537044)

A politician with an ideology? And he's doing something with his ideology? How can this happen?

Flamebait (-1)

pjt33 (739471) | more than 3 years ago | (#34536816)

Can we just tag this story flamebait and be done?

Re:Flamebait (1)

nebaz (453974) | more than 3 years ago | (#34536842)

I don't think the story is flamebait. While the presentation may be slanted, this judicial ruling is certainly newsworthy. It will be interesting to see how this plays out in the higher courts.

Re:Flamebait (4, Insightful)

Moridineas (213502) | more than 3 years ago | (#34536928)

I think the only part of the story that is flamebait is the editorial statement "In a surprise move."

This is NOT a surprise move. The individual mandate has been widely debated by academics and lawyers with many dissenting viewpoints. It was pretty much inevitable that at some point a portion of the bill (and most likely the individual mandate) would end up in front of a judge who didn't find it licit, and that it would end up in front of the supreme court.

I would bet anything that President Obama and and most of the people behind the health care bill were certain that it would at some point be reviewed by SCOTUS.

Unconstitutional (4, Insightful)

mark72005 (1233572) | more than 3 years ago | (#34536820)

Too bad "unconstitutional" is only defined by which party has the bench packed at the Supreme Court, currently

Great Job, Republican Judge (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34536964)

We finally pass meaningful health care reform, and there is a Republican Judge, waiting to strike it down, killing thousands in the process. Not that Republicans ever give a shit about their fellow Americans.

Everyone who has voted Republican has the blood of sick Americans on their hands. As well as the blood of Iraqi civilians, and the stench of their stolen oil.

Re:Great Job, Republican Judge (4, Funny)

mark72005 (1233572) | more than 3 years ago | (#34537010)

We passed "meaningful" health care reform? Was there a replacement bill passed recently that was not publicized?

Re:Great Job, Republican Judge (2)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 3 years ago | (#34537202)

You're close to flamebait but I'll try to dig you out with a reply.

"Meaningful" means that of all reform passed, there is a subset of that reform which qualifies as health care reform. However, up to now it's been patchwork issues. "Meaningful" reform has been on some five Presidents' agendas and gotten torpedoed by Politics As Usual. The most famous proponent to get crunched was Hillary Clinton. This was just when the Repub's started hitting grand slams with the voters and vowed to crush anything she proposed.

Re:Unconstitutional (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34537032)

That is only accurate if you consider the constitution a "living document", which it isn't.

Re:Unconstitutional (3, Insightful)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 3 years ago | (#34537130)

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

Either we have a Constitution, and it applies, or it does not. Can you tell me, exactly where in the Constitution, Congress has the authority to require people to spend any money on anything, save for taxes?

If you clamor about the Commerce Clause I'll scream that Health Insurance is NOT interstate commerce, it is specifically NOT interstate. I can't buy health insurance from Nevada.

But that is besides the point, you want universally bad health care for everyone, so Constitution be damned.

Re:Unconstitutional (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34537210)

Really cause I live in IN and my insurance is BCBA of CA....

Surprise move? (5, Insightful)

sunking2 (521698) | more than 3 years ago | (#34536838)

Oh really? Anyone who at least didn't question the constitutionality of this really (regardless of where you end up standing) needs to get a clue.

Re:Surprise move? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34536906)

mod up

Re:Surprise move? (3, Interesting)

mark72005 (1233572) | more than 3 years ago | (#34536924)

You don't think it's reasonable to say every citizen must buy a particular product from a small set of private companies, or face onerous tax penalties (and jail time, if unpaid?)

Re:Surprise move? (-1, Offtopic)

sconeu (64226) | more than 3 years ago | (#34537092)

California. Auto Insurance.

Re:Surprise move? (3, Insightful)

Courageous (228506) | more than 3 years ago | (#34537144)

California. A State, not the Federal Government.

Re:Surprise move? (3, Informative)

hhallahh (1378697) | more than 3 years ago | (#34537160)

Not every citizen in California is required to have auto insurance. Only those who want to drive.

Re:Surprise move? (0)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#34537180)

Of course it's reasonable. The next think the US (and the EU too) should do is require everyone to buy hybrid cars, else face a $1000/year penalty. Also solar paneled roofs, else face a $500 penalty. And buy Operating Systems (no freebies lke linux) or else be fined $5/year.

I don't see how anyone could possibly disagree with this Modest Proposal.

(Unless, to quote the fellow above, he is the Virginia AG who is a right-wing frak... but other than that... who could possibly object to the EU or US forcing/nudging people to buy products they don't want? Unemo.)

Re:Surprise move? (5, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 3 years ago | (#34537052)

It's surprising when the constitutionality of *ANY* measure the federal government takes is called into question. If we really read the constitution, very, very little of what our government does is authorized. The real question is not whether this bill is unconstitutional, most laws are unconstitutional. The question is why does this law get questioned, when other laws that are just as clearly unconstitutional get a pass?

Re:Surprise move? (5, Insightful)

gurps_npc (621217) | more than 3 years ago | (#34537064)

I don't question it. I have studied it thoroughly and am very well educated on the issue. You are entirely wrong, are acting emotional and objecting to soemthign becaue you dislike it and therefore are struggling to find SOME kind of insane argument about it being unconstitional. Nope. Sorry. Not everything you hate is unconstitional.

The clause in question does NOT really criminalize failure to get insurance, it simply requires those that fail to buy a insurance to pay the government cash.

Just as the government can put a tax on you doing something, they can put a tax on you not doing something. Just as the government can say "we give everyone that have children a tax reduction", that same government can say "We give everyone that buys health care, a tax reduction."

The only problem here is a bunch of morons are too stupid to think their own argument through. They get caught up in words like 'require' but don't bother to look at what the law actually does.

The fact that the government choose to use words that sound like they are criminalizing it does not affect the actual content of the law. The fact that you can't find anything at all actually wrong with the law forces you to concentrate on irrelavant crap.

Could someone kindly explain (1)

Haedrian (1676506) | more than 3 years ago | (#34536840)

In brief terms how laws in the US pass? I thought it started from the senate, and the president has veto rights.

But now Judges can mess with the laws?

Thanks in advance.

Re:Could someone kindly explain (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34536898)

Long story short: it starts in the corporate boardroom, and ends in a room full of senators on a pile of hookers and blow.

todo : get elected Senator (1)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 3 years ago | (#34537016)

Long story short: it starts in the corporate boardroom, and ends in a room full of senators on a pile of hookers and blow.

I'd really like to see that version on Schoolhouse Rock!

Re:Could someone kindly explain (1)

Mitchell314 (1576581) | more than 3 years ago | (#34536912)

It's been a while since I've studied this stuff, but IIRC the supreme court can determine whether or not a given piece of legislation is constitutional.

Re:Could someone kindly explain (2)

bky1701 (979071) | more than 3 years ago | (#34536922)

The house essentially creates the law, and must pass it. It then goes to the senate which can revise it. In practice these tend to go on at the same time. Once it passes the house and the senate, the president can pass or veto it (veto only makes it require a larger margin).

In the US (and other common law countries) laws can be ruled unconstitutional by the judiciary. Should a law be challenged and get high enough, it can essentially be repealed by the supreme court.

Re:Could someone kindly explain (1)

nebaz (453974) | more than 3 years ago | (#34536938)

The Congress is divided into two chambers: The House of Representatives and the Senate. Both houses have to approve a bill for it to become law. The President then must sign it. If he does not (veto) the law does not pass, but Congress can override the President with a 2/3 vote on any given law. Laws must also be consistent with the constitution, however. If Congress made a law that said "the rights of free speech are hereby abolished", or "The Official Religion of the United States is now Catholicism", these go explicitly against items in the U.S. constitution. The judicial branch has (some would say has taken) the power to declare a law unconstitutional if it goes against the Constitution. The way it is now, the Supreme Court is the ultimate arbiter in these cases. Changing results from the court would either require a constitutional amendment, or a re-ruling by the Supreme Court, presumably with different members, years later. Nothing in the constitution explicitly gives the courts this law overturning power, but it has generally been upheld and was common practice in law at the time. The degree to which judges can modify laws based on unconstitutionality is subject to much debate at the present time.

Re:Could someone kindly explain (4, Informative)

LMacG (118321) | more than 3 years ago | (#34536974)

At a very rudimentary level . . . A bill can be introduced in either the Senate or the House of Representatives. After being passed in one, it must then be passed by the other before it is sent to the President, who can sign the bill into law or veto it. If one chamber has added amendments that the other didn't, or if the two chambers have passed bills that are similar but not exactly the same, then the differences must be worked out by a conference committee and the compromise bill re-passed before it can be signed.

Any law can be challenged as being unconstitutional - you just need somebody with standing to file the appropriate suit in the appropriate court.

The judge is not "messing with the law", he is making a judgment on whether or not it violates the Constitution.

Re:Could someone kindly explain (1)

Moridineas (213502) | more than 3 years ago | (#34536994)

Much like pretty much every Western country -- indeed almost all countries worldwide -- there are limitations on what laws can be passed. Would you really like it if under Bush, when the Republicans had a President, and the House and Senate, they had passed a law declaring GWB President for Life? Sure it could have been passed by congress (both houses, not just the Senate) and signed by the President, but is it consitutional? Is it legal? Constitutions exist to protect citizens from the excesses of their governments as well!

What country are you from that does not have an analagous form?

Re:Could someone kindly explain (2)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 3 years ago | (#34536996)

The US has three equal branches of government at State and Federal level. At the Federal level they'd be Executive (President), Legislative (Congress - House and Senate) and Judicial (Federal Courts, Appeals Courts other misc courts and the United States Supreme Court).

The two houses of Congress have to agree on a bill, the President can sign or veto. Then its a law. However a challenge or appeal can be filed, which is happening in 19 or states, this case is the second or third one of these challenges and is the first one upheld by a Federal Court.

Now this will go to a Federal Appeals Court and may end up at the United States Supreme Court, if the courts rule this is unconstitutional then it's no longer a law. They won't be able to pass the same bill as a law because that too would be unconstitutional.

Judges have always had this power in the United States, its not a new thing.

Re:Could someone kindly explain (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34537040)

Anyone could write a bill (and most often they are written by lobbyists), but they have to be sponsored by a lawmaker in either the House of Representatives or the Senate. Then it has to pass both chambers of Congress to go to the President for his/her signature. The President can then do one of three things: (1) Sign it and it becomes a law. (2) Veto it and send it back to Congress to fix, which then Congress could override the veto. (3) Or, the President could let the bill sit on his desk and expire.

But once a bill becomes a law, things aren't over. Anyone could sue the government and challenge whether the government overstepped its bounds as defined by the Constitution. A judge would then make a decision. This usually happens several times on different levels before it's appealed to the Supreme Court who could hear the case and make a ruling or refuse to hear the case and let the lower court ruling stand.

The process works pretty well, but (in my opinion) the problem lies in allowing lobbyists write bills.

Re:Could someone kindly explain (1)

redemtionboy (890616) | more than 3 years ago | (#34537046)

It's all about checks and balances to make sure that no one office of branch of the government ever gets out of control. Congress passes laws, president passes or vetoes, but congress can still pass a law by getting a 2/3 majority vote the second time through even if the president vetoes it the first time, then any law can be ruled unconstitutional and stricken by the judicial branch, but only if someone brings the case to court and argues it. Also, pay in mind that supreme court justices are appointed by the president and approved by congress. That said, there are plenty who try and empower branches to become stronger than they are intended to. Executive orders have made the executive branch way more powerful than it should be, and making the senate elected officials like the house of representatives instead of appointed by the state governments has taken away almost all voices the state governments had in federal government, but for the most part, checks and balances are still in place.

Re:Could someone kindly explain (1)

Astro Dr Dave (787433) | more than 3 years ago | (#34537058)

Laws must be passed by both the House and Senate, then they go to the President's desk for his signature (or veto).

Many of the laws that have been passed are illegal. The federal government is chartered by the U.S. Constitution, which is a document specifically listing the things that the federal government is allowed to do. Nothing prevents Congress from passing laws which violate the Constitution. This happens all the time, and the only possible remedy is to challenge the law in court. Unfortunately, the courts are statist and they tend to strike down only the most egregious violations (and sometimes not even then).

This was a very good decision, and I commend the judge. The Interstate Commerce clause has been horrifically abused by the federal government.

Re:Could someone kindly explain (1)

Danse (1026) | more than 3 years ago | (#34537060)

In brief terms how laws in the US pass? I thought it started from the senate, and the president has veto rights. But now Judges can mess with the laws? Thanks in advance.

Ok, very briefly...

In general, lobbyists write the laws, Congress argues about the laws, possibly eventually passing them, at which point the president either signs it into law or vetoes it. If it becomes a law, then judges decide how it will be applied in practice based on their interpretation of the law. If they decide that it should not be applied due to a conflict with the Constitution, then it will likely be appealed up the court chain until it reaches the Supreme Court. The USSC will then either allow the lower court ruling to stand, or they will take up the case and become the final arbiter of whatever the dispute is about. They may rule on all or part of the case, possibly striking it down entirely in cases where the law directly conflicts with the Constitution. If only a certain aspect is at issue, they may rule on that and send the case back to a lower court with that clarification.

Re:Could someone kindly explain (1)

OldeTimeGeek (725417) | more than 3 years ago | (#34537094)

Because that's what the founders set up Federal Court system and the Supreme Court to do. They can't "mess with the laws" as in alter them, all they can do is rule whether the law specifies rights that are within or exceed those rights enumerated to the government within the Constitution - in this case, the Federal Court ruled that the law exceeded what the government is permitted to do.

Re:Could someone kindly explain (1)

Americano (920576) | more than 3 years ago | (#34537106)

There's a whole involved process involving sponsorship, committees, reconciliation, etc. But, In a nut:

A chamber of theLegislature (Senate & House of Representatives, two separate chambers) propose, review and vote on a bill. If the bill passes each house by a simple majority, the variations in versions voted on between the two chambers must be reconciled & a vote on the reconciled bill taken. If both chambers approve the reconciled bill, it is sent to the president (Executive branch) to sign into law. The president has several options: sign the bill, making it a law; veto the bill (sending it back to the legislature, and requiring either rework or a 2/3 majority of the legislature to override the veto); or refuse to do anything with it for up to 10 days; if congress is in session at the end of the 10 day period, the bill becomes law without the signature; if congress is not in session, the bill dies.

After the bill becomes law, however, the Judicial branch has a power known as judicial review, where they may strike a law down as unconstitutional: if it violates the constitution, the law (or sections of the law) may be declared null and void by the judiciary as the Constitution is the supreme law of the land, and no laws made by federal or state legislatures may contradict it - the only way around this power is via constitutional amendment, or by appointing new judges who have a different interpretation of the law and the constitution.

There's a lot of process and checks and balances in the whole thing, but each branch, by design, has the power to "mess with the laws." The theory is that each branch having some power to balance out the other branches prevents a single branch from running amok and forcing an agenda on the people that is unconstitutional.

Re:Could someone kindly explain (1)

flitty (981864) | more than 3 years ago | (#34537150)

Quick, messy version:
House/Senate writes the bills.
President signs/vetoes bills.
Supreme Court examines laws (when challenged) to verify they don't conflict with the constitution. If a law is ruled unconstitutional, it is no longer a law, and then the house/senate can try to write a similar law that doesn't conflict with the (current supreme court's reading of the) constitution. Or, if they are so inclined, they can try to amend the Constitution.

Re:Could someone kindly explain (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34537158)

In brief terms how laws in the US pass? I thought it started from the senate, and the president has veto rights. But now Judges can mess with the laws? Thanks in advance.

1. A bill (proposed law) gets submitted to one of the two houses of Congress (the House of Representatives or the Senate). Only Members of Congress can submit bills.

2. The bill gets marked up (essentially stamped as "submitted," correctly formatted, assigned tracking numbers, etc.) and sent to the relevant committee.

3. The committee amends, rewrites, debates etc, and then holds a vote. If it doesn't pass the committee vote, the bill is dead. If it passes the committee vote, it either goes on to the next relevant committee (bills can move through several committees simultaneously) or goes to the floor of the House or Senate for further debate and an eventual vote.

4. The House or Senate stages a vote and can do one of three things. It can vote "no" and kill the bill. It can vote "yes" and pass it. It can vote to recommit the bill back to committee for further debate.

5. If the House or Senate passes the bill, the other side of Congress then takes it up and goes through it's own process of steps 1-4.

6. Once both houses of Congress have passed a similar bill, it then goes to a conference committee made up of members of both the House and Senate (this step is ignored if both bills are identical). The Conference Committee negotiates the differences and produces a single, final version of the bill which then goes back to both houses for a final vote.

7. If either house of Congress votes "no" on the Conference Committee version of the bill, it usually just dies. If both houses vote "yes," then the bill goes to the President of the United States for his signature.

8. The President has 10 days to sign the bill. If the President signs the bill within 10 days, it becomes law. If the President doesn't sign the bill within 10 days and Congress is in session, it becomes law without his signature. If the President doesn't sign the bill within 10 days and Congress has adjourned within the 10-day period, the bill does not become law (called a "pocket veto"). If the President outright vetoes the bill (signs "no") it goes back to Congress for reconsideration.

9. If Congress can muster 2/4 vote of both houses to override the veto, the bill becomes law.

10. Somewhere, somebody who's unhappy immediately goes venue shopping and files a lawsuit challenging the new law in a court known to be sympathetic to a particular political viewpoint. The court immediately issues an injunction suspending the new law, and it floats along in limbo for a few years as it works its way through the courts until the Supreme Court either overturns it on Constitutional grounds or upholds it. If the Court overturns the entire law, return to step 1. If the Court overturns part of the law, return to step 1 and file a new bill that tries to plug the gap left by the overturned part of the law. If the Court upholds the law, it goes into effect and the country tries to ignore the unhappy plaintiffs who start screaming about the need for a Constitutional amendment to overturn the law and prevent any judge from ever imposing his activist-or-merciless will on the masses. (This step is optional).

Re:Could someone kindly explain (1)

panaceaa (205396) | more than 3 years ago | (#34537162)

The constitution and its amendments specify certain inalienable rights that cannot be violated by state and national laws. Strictly speaking, the Congress can pass any legislation it wants, and the president can sign or veto any of that legislation, regardless of constitutionality. It is the federal courts, and usually the Supreme Court, that then enforce the constitutionally of laws through the federal appeal process. If they find that certain pieces of legislation violate the rights granted to the people by the constitution, they can invalidate them and remove them from law.

In my humble opinion, this is the tug and pull that makes the United States still livable. Without it, the United States would still have segregation, abortion would be illegal, most schools would teach Christianity, people accused of crimes would have far fewer rights, and the press would likely be very tight-lipped. Though, on the other side, the 2nd Amendment has caused many very noble-intentioned gun control laws to become invalidated.

News for Nerds? (0)

Brannon (221550) | more than 3 years ago | (#34536844)

Oh right, this was reported on the internet, so it is relevant here.

Re:News for Nerds? (1)

MillionthMonkey (240664) | more than 3 years ago | (#34536854)

Nerds don't get sick; they're too smart.

Well, it's a popular hobby on /. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34536992)

to make comments on subjects about which one is badly uninformed, such as the law. Slashdotters could not pursue this hobby in the absence of any posts on legal topics.

I have to admit, though, it's a great idea. I'm going to play the flip side of this coin by starting a blog where lawyers (typically educated in history, political science, and various fields of law) can offer up their thoughts and opinions on the latest Integrated Development Environments, new chip-fabrication technology, 3rd Amendment analysis of Apple's latest iPod features, etc.

Because really, the #1 best feature of the internet is that it gives people a worldwide platform to talk about subjects on which they are utterly clueless and have no meaningful basis for making an intelligent comment.

How can this possibly be surprising? (3, Insightful)

Agent__Smith (168715) | more than 3 years ago | (#34536848)

How can it possibly be constitutional to force someone sitting at home who has no insurance to leave that home, to forcibly purchase anything? It is like forcing a license to live.

While I think it foolish not to purchase said insurance if possible, I cannot see anyway to legally compel this action by force.

Re:How can this possibly be surprising? (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34536926)

Liberals: The government should force these people to buy our horrible idea of healthcare. Because we are so smart and know what is best for them knuckledraggers.

Re:How can this possibly be surprising? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34536950)

How dare XYZ Insurance Company deny me the right to purchase a homeowner's insurance policy on my home the day after it burned to the ground! I demand coverage for pre-existing homes!

Re:How can this possibly be surprising? (5, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 3 years ago | (#34536960)

The same way it's possible to force him to pay for roads he doesn't use, police he doesn't need, or libraries he doesn't want. It's like people never heard of taxes before.

As for the Commerce Clause, yes it's been mutilated in the past century. I'd be in favor of rolling back those abuses. But as long as the courts hold that Cannabis [wikipedia.org] grown for personal medical use in ones own home can be considered interstate commerce this challenge doesn't have a chance.

Where the hell were all of you limited government people 5 years ago?

Re:How can this possibly be surprising? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34537084)

The key difference between your example of services provided through taxes and the individual mandate to buy health insurance is that the requirement is not implemented through taxes for a government-provided service. The mandate is for individuals to purchase insurance from companies.

There are already taxes in the U.S. to pay for Medicare (government-provided health insurance for the elderly) and Medicaid (government-provided health insurance for the poor). There is not a requirement for doctors to accept Medicare and/or Medicaid, and only certain demographics within the U.S. are eligible for either of these.

Re:How can this possibly be surprising? (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 3 years ago | (#34537134)

The key difference between your example of services provided through taxes and the individual mandate to buy health insurance is that the requirement is not implemented through taxes for a government-provided service. The mandate is for individuals to purchase insurance from companies

So forcing people to buy services from a single provider (e.g. the US government) is ok. But forcing people to buy services from a choice of providers is not? How is giving people more choice unconstitutional?

Re:How can this possibly be surprising? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34537140)

Forcing insurance companies to take on millions of new customers is hardly a public service. It's more like crony capitalism. Do you have any idea how insurance works? It works precisely BECAUSE it is a gamble, and the insurance company can still turn a profit. You are assigned a premium based on the risk associated with the pool of people you are grouped with. The risk of insuring you is diffused among a large group of people. It's highly unlikely that every member of your group will need a heart transplant, but if a few need it, then the insurance company still makes a profit. Start forcing companies to cover people with pre-existing conditions, and the risk associated with insuring that pool of people goes waaay up. Therefore their premium goes way up. And if the government ever caps premiums and makes it unprofitable to run an insurance company, then no one will do it and we all lose. So you tell me, which is the best option: affordable insurance for most, or no insurance for anyone?

Re:How can this possibly be surprising? (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 3 years ago | (#34537200)

Forcing insurance companies to take on millions of new customers is hardly a public service. It's more like crony capitalism.

Forcing drug laws on states that don't want them is crony capitalism too. The Supreme Court has ruled in favor of crony capitalism on many occasions.

Re:How can this possibly be surprising? (1)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | more than 3 years ago | (#34537184)

> The same way it's possible to force him to pay for roads he doesn't use, police he doesn't need, or libraries he doesn't want. It's like people never heard of taxes before.

Obviously you are not a lawyer, because, with all due respect, you don't know what you are talking about.

I once got a lawyer to begudgringly admit, ALL law is based on Contract Law. There is NO LAW that forces a person to pay for those things -- if you are then you have _contracted_ to.
e.g. If you are paying property tax, it is because you do NOT own the land -- you might want to look up what the words "Allodial Title" means.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allodial_title [wikipedia.org]

War on (some) Drugs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34536874)

I would love to see the rationale for this being unconstitutional, but the War on Drugs being A-Ok. They've already decided the commerce clause let's them do anything that could potentially affect interstate commerce, so this is certainly covered by that. People would be purchasing different insurance than otherwise, which could affect the market in both that state and others.

This wouldn't be a problem with single payer. (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34536884)

The odd aspect of the current plan is that you can be compelled by law, just by dint of being a citizen, to purchase a product from a private company.

If it was an across-the-board tax for across-the-board health coverage it'd clearly be constitutional. But for some reason we have to keep cutting in a for-profit industry that adds no real value to the process and pretend that's better than having the government pool the cash and disburse it as necessary to doctors.

They actually found a worse solution than socialism to the problem.

Wow (2, Insightful)

0racle (667029) | more than 3 years ago | (#34536886)

Only in the US is healthcare a privilege instead of a human right. That so many in a 'civilized' country are opposed to universal healthcare should make people wonder if the term 'civilized' is appropriate at all.

Re:Wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34536930)

To quote the great George Carlin:

"....Can’t get health care to our old people. But we can bomb the shit outta your country, all right"

Re:Wow (3, Informative)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 3 years ago | (#34536986)

Healthcare is not a personal liberty, it's someone else's goods and services.

Talk about piracy...

Re:Wow (1)

glittermage (650813) | more than 3 years ago | (#34537000)

Being civilized has nothing to do with universal healthcare. Before Obamacare you could get medical assistance with having a baby or if your life is endangered regardless if you are a citizen or not.

Re:Wow (2)

Beelzebud (1361137) | more than 3 years ago | (#34537048)

The Emergency Room isn't the best way to provide health care to all, and under "Obamacare" (which was called RomneyCare back when the Republicans loved this style of plan) you can still go to the emergency room if you need it.

Re:Wow (2)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 3 years ago | (#34537154)

Before Obamacare you could get medical assistance with having a baby or if your life is endangered regardless if you are a citizen or not.

I take it you mean that in an emergency you can go to the ER. There are at least 2 major problems with that:
1. The ER is the #1 most expensive way to treat patients. If the cost isn't paid by the patient, it's going to get paid by everybody else via higher prices. For instance, a typical ER visit is in the range of $300-$500. A typical office visit is closer to $150 to $200.

2. If you do need to get treatment for life-threatening issues, it could well cost you not only everything you own, but everything you'd possibly be able to save after you recover. You'll be alive, but you and your family will be impoverished more-or-less permanently.

Re:Wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34537018)

We're not Opposed to Universal HealthCare, just not THIS "Don't do anything to change the system, just mandate more coverage in order to make the Insurers a higher profit margin" faux-change.

Re:Wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34537028)

We're a fucked up country that bases our opinions on two-bit opinions, propaganda, and AM radio rhetoric.

And it's amazing how some people picks and chooses were there values lie.

I for one am Pro-Life BUT I don't think it should be legislated - Gov sticks too much of their noses in our business as it is. Anyway, talking to another Pro-lifer or anti - abortion person which ever floats your boat, I said, "OK, let's legislate it." - the other person broke into a smile - "BUT, I would want put into the legislation that all children get free healthcare with absolutely no restrictions until they're 18 even if it means our taxes go up. You want the children we force to be born to have proper health care and have a healthy life, riiiiiighht?!?"

Then the arguments against it. Pro-Life my ass!

Re:Wow (1)

smooth wombat (796938) | more than 3 years ago | (#34537132)

I shouldn't be forced to use my money to pay for my neighbor's health care when they think it's no big deal to smoke a pack a day or suck down a case of beer or a bottle of Wild Turkey every weekend.

Nor should I be forced to pay for my neighbor who is the spitting image of Shamu because they suck down a bottle of Pepsi and a box of Ho Hos every day.

Nor should I be forced to pay for my neighbor's health care who thinks it's great to do X, smoke some weed, or do a line or two at parties and raves.

If you want to pay for your neighbor's health care, be my guest. I shouldn't be forced to do so.

Re:Wow (1)

navygeek (1044768) | more than 3 years ago | (#34537166)

How is healthcare a right? Is it something that would be great for all of us to have, sure of course. Where is it written that medical care needs to be provided to everyone on a silver platter? Is driving a 'right'? Not at all, it's a privilege that you earn by studying, taking the tests, and proving you at least a basic ability to control the car. Even then, you have to have a car to drive, one isn't given to you once you get a license. Medical care, as far as I'm aware, always something that had to be paid for - either via the currency of the realm or trade/barter. If you couldn't pay for it, one way or another, you didn't get help. That's the way it goes. As a reasonably successful professional, I have no problem helping the less fortunate - I donate time and money annually through a variety of ways/means/organizations. What I take issue with is why should I, someone that works hard to earn my wage, enable or support lazy morons that don't work or even try (i.e. people that abuse government programs like Unemployment or Wellfare)?

Before you pat yourself on the back... (4, Insightful)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 3 years ago | (#34536908)

...ask yourself who this is actually a victory for. After all, this was only a ruling against a part of the law, not the entire thing. And this was really the part that was the biggest corporate hand-out of the bill - had a real liberal written it we would have seen a single-payer option instead of forcing people to give more money to large corporations.

So in other words, if this part goes, and the rest stays, what are we left with? A bunch of smaller corporate hand-outs that don't fix much of anything in a horrendously broken system. Most people will still have the shitty insurance they already have, and they will see their costs continue to rise the same way that they would have if nothing at all had happened.

So whether it goes away - in part or in entirety - or not, we still have a crappy broken system. Maybe, just maybe - if we are really truly fortunate - this will motive our politicians to actually write a bill that addresses some of the existing problems and then hold an honest discussion on that.

But I suspect at this rate I (and anyone currently reading this) will be dead before that happens in the US.

Re:Before you pat yourself on the back... (1)

Moridineas (213502) | more than 3 years ago | (#34537090)

Here's an interesting article that discusses exactly the issue you're raising:

White House Concedes Individual Mandate is not Severable [volokh.com]

The long and short of it -- President Obama's people see the portions of the bill as linked inextricably.

Re:Before you pat yourself on the back... (4, Insightful)

jfruhlinger (470035) | more than 3 years ago | (#34537176)

Call it a "corporate handout" if you want, but the logic behind it is this: you can't require private insurers to accept new customers with pre-existing conditions (which the health reform does -- and this is probably its most popular provision) without requiring everyone to buy health insurance. Otherwise, people would just stay uninsured until they got sick, and the whole health insurance industry would collapse. Essentially, this is the only way that you can get a system with universal coverage that is entirely based on private insurance.

If this provision doesn't hold, you may get your single payer coverage sooner than you think.

yeah (1)

Ryanrule (1657199) | more than 3 years ago | (#34536910)

his guy is a gw appointee. he owns part of a gop consulting firm. the republican party is paying him money. http://www.judicialwatch.org/judge/hudson-henry-e [judicialwatch.org]

Re:yeah (1)

Moridineas (213502) | more than 3 years ago | (#34537122)

Isn't that the definition of ad hominem?

It's the exact same thing that happens every time a judge overrules anti-gay marriage legislation (or finds gay marriage legal) and the social conservatives start bleating about "Clinton appointees" and judicial activists. Do you really want to be arguing the same way they do?

The single payer types should love this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34536920)

Forcing insurers to accept pre-existing conditions without a mandate should put them out of business.

When was the last time our government (0)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 3 years ago | (#34536936)

did something to help people? I can't think of anything, really.

What is the point of our government if it can't even help its people in times of non-stop crisis?

Re:When was the last time our government (5, Funny)

oodaloop (1229816) | more than 3 years ago | (#34537056)

All right ... all right ... but apart from better sanitation and medicine and education and irrigation and public health and roads and a freshwater system and baths and public order ... what have the Romans ever done for us?

Taxation (1)

gurps_npc (621217) | more than 3 years ago | (#34536940)

Right now the only penalty for failing to buy health care is a tax.

Claiming that the Federal government does not have the ability to tax people for doing something is ridiculous. If the government has the right to tax us for doing something, it has the right to tax us for not doing something.

Their arugment is specious.

Re:Taxation (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 3 years ago | (#34537198)

Because clearly you have a better understanding of the ins and outs of the the constitutional grants of government power than a mere US District Judge.

I told ya: (I told everybody) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34536948)

this wasn't going to work without a public option.

Too bad Obama is a politiician and not a statesman.

But I have to have auto insurance... (0)

bbernard (930130) | more than 3 years ago | (#34536958)

So, let me get this straight: the government can force me to have auto insurance, but not health insurance? Well that sure makes sense.

Re:But I have to have auto insurance... (2)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 3 years ago | (#34537074)

They can't force you to have auto insurance. They can't force you to buy a car.

Re:But I have to have auto insurance... (2)

svendsen (1029716) | more than 3 years ago | (#34537078)

Federal Government doesn't force you to have auto insurance if you have a car. The state governments say if you want to drive your car on the public roads then you have to have insurance. I know lots of people with a) no cars and b) vehicles never taken on public roads (think real rural areas on massive amount of private land) who don't have auto insurance.

This law basically says you have to have health insurance. Period. Big difference.

Re:But I have to have auto insurance... (1, Troll)

tsalmark (1265778) | more than 3 years ago | (#34537080)

The courts are ok with: "If you want to drive a car you need car insurance". They still have issues with: "if you want to live you need to buy life insurance".

Re:But I have to have auto insurance... (1)

djconrad (1413667) | more than 3 years ago | (#34537116)

I don't have auto insurance, and the gov't doesn't fine me for not having it.

Re:But I have to have auto insurance... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34537126)

You have to have auto insurance only if you want to drive on a public road. And it's state law, not federal law. Different constitutions, different sets of powers.

Re:But I have to have auto insurance... (1)

meloneg (101248) | more than 3 years ago | (#34537164)

I don't recall the *Federal* government mandating auto-insurance, I believe that all of the states do. But, that is the point. The Constitution explicitly dictates the powers that Congress has. All other powers "are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people". Go read the tenth amendment. It is considerably less muddily worded than some of the Bill of Rights.

Conservatives to start... (4, Funny)

greg_barton (5551) | more than 3 years ago | (#34536966)

.complaining about activist judges in 3...2... ...no? Really?

Partisan politics sucks. (5, Insightful)

Beelzebud (1361137) | more than 3 years ago | (#34536982)

Anyone with a memory better than a gold fish can laugh with me as I recall that insurance mandates were originally the Republican plan. Republicans loved the idea of a mandate, and Democrats hated it.

Now? The Democrats folded like a cheap suit, gave the Republicans what they had been calling for for 15 years, and suddenly the Republicans hate the idea of a mandate.

Re:Partisan politics sucks. (1)

iammani (1392285) | more than 3 years ago | (#34537156)

Ok lets ignore the parties. Do you think it is unconstitutional or not?

Why are these types of judges always in the south? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34536988)

I think it'd have more creedence if it wasn't some goobers protesting the federal government.

Surprise?!? (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 3 years ago | (#34537012)

In a surprise move, US District Judge Henry E. Hudson issued a ruling today that the universal healthcare law that was pushed through by the Obama administration is unconstitutional.

How is it a surprise that one of the two judges in the various challenges to the law that have been widely been reported as conservative judges that opponents of the law have been very careful in forum-shopping to get their cases before because they are likely to be sympathetic on this particular argument -- that the individual mandate exceeds the Congress' authority under the Commerce Clause -- has ruled that (surprise?) the individual mandate exceeds the Congress' authority under the Commerce Clause.

Especially given that the judges leanings on this issue were heavily telegraphed in the hearings and earlier preliminary rulings in the case, calling it a "surprise" defies reason.

Hate to ruin the political bashfest (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34537038)

But this is pretty clearly unconstitutional under current precedent.
In our system, congress has limited powers. The only power coming close to what they want to do here is the power to regulate interstate commerce (which has been read pretty broadly in recent years).
But the interstate commerce clause is about regulating *commerce*. Congress could pass a law forcing insurance companies operating in interstate commerce (which is basically all of them) to offer coverage regardless of preexisting conditions, etc, and that's clearly within the commerce clause power.
However, saying "joe blow in IL must have health insurance or pay a fine" (which is what law says) has precisely nothing to do with interstate commerce.

Folks are counting on a broad reading of the commerce clause from the supreme court, which has been hit and miss.
See United States v. Lopez for one side, and other recent commerce clause cases for the other.

Re:Hate to ruin the political bashfest (1)

jfruhlinger (470035) | more than 3 years ago | (#34537208)

Congress could pass a law forcing insurance companies operating in interstate commerce (which is basically all of them) to offer coverage regardless of preexisting conditions, etc, and that's clearly within the commerce clause power.

Ah ha, but if insurance companies have to insure everybody (which they do, under the new law), but people aren't required to buy insurance, many people will wait until they're sick to buy health insurance, and the system will collapse. This doesn't have anything to do with the constitutionality of the law, but it does affect its practicality.

It IS Unconstitutional... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34537042)

There is NOTHING in the Constitution of the United States of America that give the federal government the power and authority to FORCE individuals to buy (or pay for, whichever you prefer) . In this case the item we're inserting is Healthcare coverage. We're not talking about a universal, socialist-style system where everyone is taken care of. We're talking about a system which MANDATES that every Citizen of the United States spend their hard earned money on a specific item - there is no choice. What? You say there is a choice? Not really, because if you don't pay for healthcare coverage under the Obama plan you are _penalized_ -- fined to the tune of enough money that you are basically paying for healthcare anyway.

Is that really a choice? Really?

Here is my choice -- the American government has gotten too big and the "nanny state" has gone too far. I say we need less of each. Let's start with not forcing any Citizen of these United States to spend their money on something that is not by choice.

Already lost my hope for sanity in the U.S. (2)

fadir (522518) | more than 3 years ago | (#34537062)

Next they probably rule that being poor is unconstitutional because you cannot buy enough stuff and therefore damage the economy which seems to be the only important factor in the U.S.

Meanwhile I realized that the difference between Obama as president and McCain is probably not much more than the color of their skin. They are both spineless idiots that just follow the way that money leads them. I guess the only way to go for you guys is further down the same road that you apparently chose as the only truth: money, money, money. Will be interesting to see where that will lead you to. I presume civil war at some point when the gap between the rich and the poor has reach a level where the masses won't shut up anymore and even tanks and armed forces will be the lesser evil compared to poverty and the lack of a proper future.

The justification is that it is simply a tax (1)

bigsexyjoe (581721) | more than 3 years ago | (#34537072)

The justification in the law is that it is simply a $750 tax on people who don't purchase health insurance. Or if you like, everyone's taxes went up $750 and you get a $750 rebate for purchasing insurance.

The $750 tax is enforced by the IRS. You can't face any criminal charges for not purchasing insurance.

This happened because of taxaphobia (5, Interesting)

istartedi (132515) | more than 3 years ago | (#34537102)

If he had simply put a tax increase in the bill to pay for it, it would be totally constitutional. That was not possible from a political PoV, so they came up with the individual mandate.

IMHO, the fatal flaw with the bill is that it doesn't (as a first step) try the low-cost solutions to fixing our system:

1. Abolish the anti-trust exemptions for health insurers. Yes. You heard me. I bet you didn't even know that so-called "progressives" are so ready, willing and able to ignore one of the key ideas of the original Progressive Era, circa 1900.

2. Price transparency. In most states you can't even check to see if you're being ripped off because price lists are secret!

3. Eliminate provider networks. All insurers must pay the same rates from all providers, and must accept claims from any licensed practitioner.

4. Uniform, standard billing codes.

2, 3 and 4 would combine to reveal the regime in ways heretofore unseen, a veritable Wikileak of our current healthcare insanity. It would also help to eliminate over-billing of our current government programs.

None of these very low cost alternatives got on the table. Instead, not only were the inneficient inscos not punished, they were actually rewarded with the individual mandate! It's just another example of how powerful interests have bought government.

Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34537172)

I wanted real health care reform, not to be forced to prop up corrupt insurance companies.

Then again if the whole thing gets tossed out, the odds of the new congress doing anything better seem slim.

Let's bring everyone on the same page (5, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 3 years ago | (#34537174)

There's a lot of FUD out there about health insurance. So here's the facts:

Country A: Health insurance is optional. So only the sick get health insurance. Their premiums are high, because they use their health insurance a lot. The young and uninsured meanwhile, a few of them need to go to the hospital too (broken arms, etc.: anyone can have a health emergency, even the very healthy). However, since the young and uninsured are usually poor, they can't afford the bills. They avoid them. Or declare bankruptcy. The hospital passes the unpaid bills onto the state and feds, and your tax dollars pay to keep the hospital from going bankrupt. Since no self-respecting society can turn away the sick, this already is universal healthcare, just paid for in the stupidest most expensive way possible. As well as destroying young people's credit and encouraging them to freeload and act irresponsibly.

Country B: Health insurance is mandatory. So everyone pays premiums. The premiums are low, because only a small percentage of the insured population actually use the insurance. The young need insurance because they can get sick too, and no, it is not wrong to be using some of the money of the young to treat the older and sick. This is called morality in most societies: you care for the elderly and sick in your society. Only in an immoral society are you encouraged to not care for your elders and your weak.

So why is the USA stuck in Country A status? Because insurance companies are making money hand over fist in the broken system, and don't want to lose their profits. They pay for FUD propaganda about government death panels, massive expense increases, etc., the naive and foolish believe the FUD, and the naive and foolish wind up supporting a system that hurts their health.

And then there is the criticism of quality of healthcare between country A and country B. And it is true: crisis care in country A is superior to crisis care in country B. Why? Because crisis care, like heart attacks, is expensive, therefore generating revenues. See, country A is all about making money, not taking care of your health. Meanwhile, country B actually delivers a genuine higher quality healthcare, at a lower cost, because the emphasis is on preventative care: making sure you get screened, diagnosed, and put on a diet/ pills so you don't even get that heart attack in the first place... but that approach doesn't make as much money, see? It has to be about making money, not taking care of you?

Look: car insurance is mandatory in the USA. If you understand the logic behind that, you understand why health insurance should be mandatory, and not some evil socialist plot to destroy America, blah blah blah, FUD and propaganda paid for by health corporations.

Unconstitutional Mandate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34537196)

I support universal health coverage. I support government-sponsored universal coverage.

However, love it or hate it, this law is blatantly unconstitutional.

Any change this sweeping REQUIRES a constitutional amendment. Trying to sidestep the Constitution undermines the rule of law. My friend, I don't care if you are a whiny, greedy, bitching liberal or a racist, tea-bagging fascist; it doesn't matter. What matters is that the laws be fair, equitable, just, and constitutional.

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