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PA Federal Court Strikes Obamacare Mandate

PA Federal Court Strikes Obamacare Mandate

Judge Christopher C. Conner of the U.S. District Court in the Middle District of Pennsylvania has stricken the Obamacare mandatge in a Memorandum and Order issued today (h/t Fuzzy via Gateway Pundit), as reported by Bloomberg:

The insurance-buying mandate in President Barack Obama’s health-care reform legislation is unconstitutional, a federal judge in Pennsylvania ruled.

U.S. District Judge Christopher C. Conner in Harrisburg today said Congress exceeded its powers under the federal constitution when it included in the act Obama signed into law last year a provision requiring almost all Americans to have medical insurance starting in 2014.

“The federal government,” Conner said, “is one of limited enumerated powers, and Congress’s efforts to remedy the ailing health care and health insurance markets must fit squarely within the boundaries of those powers.”

A copy of the decision is here.  An appeal would go to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, which has not yet ruled on the issue.

The 4th Circuit recently dismissed the Obamacare case brought by Virginia on “standing” grounds without reaching the merits, while the 11th Circuit threw out the mandate on the merits.  The 6th Circuit has ruled in favor of the mandate on the merits.

Judge Connor summarized the issue as follows:

… this case concerns the precise parameters of Congress’s enumerated authority under the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution.  Specifically, the issue is whether Congress can invoke its Commerce Clause power to compel individuals to buy insurance as a condition of lawful citizenship or residency. The court concludes that it cannot. The power to regulate interstate commerce does not subsume the power to dictate a lifetime financial commitment to health insurance coverage. Without judicially enforceable limits, the constitutional blessing of the minimum coverage provision, codified at 26 U.S.C. § 5000A, would effectively sanction Congress’s exercise of police power under the auspices of the Commerce Clause, jeopardizing the integrity of our dual sovereignty structure. (p. 2)


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bob aka either orr | September 13, 2011 at 2:22 pm

Is it me, Prof, or are we getting different rationales from each jurisdiction ruling on this case? How close is this decision to the 11th Circuit ruling? As a non-lawyer, I’d like your views once you review the ruling.
Second question: How does this play into the likelihood that all of these cases will be combined for review by the Supremes?

Is it just me or are the courts ruling based on their political leanings? The ones appointed by dems tend to say it’s okay, the ones appointed by republicans tend to strike it down. This is getting old and tired, and it’s not doing anything to inspire confidence in our legal system. Instead, the legal system looks like a partisan hackfest where rulings are served up based on ideology and political connections/pressure. This needs to go straight to the Supreme Court. Not only to save our health care system and economy, but the very rule of law itself.

    oh, and thanks for the h/t 😉

    spiritof61 in reply to Fuzzy. | September 13, 2011 at 2:53 pm

    But the partisan hackfest saturates the entire federal judiciary. Do you doubt for a moment that you can predict with confidence how SC justices will rule on Obamacare?

    I’ll go out on a limb here and say that the liberal justices will think it’s just peachy, and the conservatives will vote to strike it down as unconstitutional.

It would be easier to just call it a tax and redistribute it as they have with other entitlement funds. Why bother with appeals to emotion and other deception when the outcome is predictable.

This seems to be little more than another “clunkers” program (not unlike the new jobs plan), which provides an initial stimulus thereby creating a sense of euphoria. Unfortunately, the euphoria passes, and then it becomes necessary to reconcile virtual and physical reality (i.e., withdrawal). You would think the “best and brightest” would understand the inevitable consequences of their policies.

In any case, the co-called “health care reform” does not actually address the underlying causes for progressive costs in providing medical services, etc.

And, of course, an obligatory appeal to a respect authority.

Concluding Notes on the Social Philosophy Towards which the General Theory Might Lead –

Thus, apart from the necessity of central controls to bring about an adjustment between the propensity to consume and the inducement to invest, there is no more reason to socialise economic life than there was before.

The advantage to efficiency of the decentralisation of decisions and of individual responsibility is even greater, perhaps, than the nineteenth century supposed; and the reaction against the appeal to self-interest may have gone too far. But, above all, individualism, if it can be purged of its defects and its abuses, is the best safeguard of personal liberty in the sense that, compared with any other system, it greatly widens the field for the exercise of personal choice. It is also the best safeguard of the variety of life, which emerges precisely from this extended field of personal choice, and the loss of which is the greatest of all the losses of the homogeneous or totalitarian state.

The authoritarian state systems of to-day seem to solve the problem of unemployment at the expense of efficiency and of freedom. It is certain that the world will not much longer tolerate the unemployment which, apart from brief intervals of excitement, is associated — and, in my opinion, inevitably associated — with present-day capitalistic individualism. But it may be possible by a right analysis of the problem to cure the disease whilst preserving efficiency and freedom.

But if nations can learn to provide themselves with full employment by their domestic policy (and, we must add, if they can also attain equilibrium in the trend of their population), there need be no important economic forces calculated to set the interest of one country against that of its neighbours. There would still be room for the international division of labour and for international lending in appropriate conditions. But there would no longer be a pressing motive why one country need force its wares on another or repulse the offerings of its neighbour, not because this was necessary to enable it to pay for what it wished to purchase, but with the express object of upsetting the equilibrium of payments so as to develop a balance of trade in its own favour. International trade would cease to be what it is, namely, a desperate expedient to maintain employment at home by forcing sales on foreign markets and restricting purchases, which, if successful, will merely shift the problem of unemployment to the neighbour which is worsted in the struggle, but a willing and unimpeded exchange of goods and services in conditions of mutual advantage.

The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money – John Maynard Keynes

Some people still believe that the issues we face today are in some manner unique.

What Fuzzy said..

However, we are at the tipping point at the High Court to remedy political law and justice.

would effectively sanction Congress’s exercise of police power under the auspices of the Commerce Clause, jeopardizing the integrity of our dual sovereignty structure.

That “integrity of our dual sovereignty structure,” point is particularly interesting to me; don’t recall seeing it before.

Although I cannot claim to know all the rulings, and I am not a lawyer, my reading of the various rulings by the circuit courts and the appellate courts seem to reflect this:

Leftists twist the Constitution to mean whatever they want it to mean, rewriting it via their rulings; moderates and Conservatives interpret the Constitution as written, as a document which limits federal powers, one which enumerates them and distributes them for a balance of powers as necessary for a free, constitutional republic.

I beg to differ with Fuzzy’s assessment:

“Is it just me or are the courts ruling based on their political leanings? The ones appointed by dems tend to say it’s okay, the ones appointed by republicans tend to strike it down. This is getting old and tired, and it’s not doing anything to inspire confidence in our legal system. Instead, the legal system looks like a partisan hackfest….”

On the contrary, I believe it is proof that liberals are trying to redefine our nation, also knows as “fundamental transformation.” They reveal themselves with every ruling that twists and contorts like a crazy pretzel to justify their pre-determined decision; or, in the case of the prior ruling, just copping out on “standing” or some other excuse to pass the buck up to SCOTUS.

I would assert that the liberals are ruling by and for political motives and ends. That includes the “men in black” in federal courts. The rest of those “men in black” are merely trying to apply principles of law, precedent, and stricter Constitutional interpretation to their rulings. In other words, they are doing their jobs with integrity, which may appear partisan, but in fact is not.

Am I wrong? Or is it really a “hackfest” on both sides?

    Your point is a distinction without a difference. I think it’s pretty safe to say that there are advocate judges on both sides of the aisle, yes, as spiritof61 notes, all the way up to the Supremes (so the answer to your final question is yes, you’re wrong, and yes, the political hackfest exists on both sides). We know this because we know that it matters who is president when a Supreme retires or dies or whatever. The appointments are key to both side. It’s not anything new. It’s just having a devastating impact on more facets of our lives in this historical moment.

      Owen J in reply to Fuzzy. | September 14, 2011 at 4:47 am

      It is only a “distinction without a difference” if you do not believe that Right and Wrong are valid concepts.

The judge hit the nail on the head with this decision. The Federal government is attempting to assume plenary or general powers in passing the health care law. In our Constitution, that is a no no as only the states have general police powers as the judge said the federal government has only limited or enumerated powers. Hence, Romneycare is allowable (although not advisable) and Obamacare is unconstitutional.

BannedbytheGuardian | September 13, 2011 at 4:59 pm

How have you managed to make this so complicated? Never say you guys are not inventive.

Why do you have such enormous expectations in health services -enough to shake your country to its foundations?

. Tort reform . Stop making up new & exotic diseases & syndromes. No huge billboards touting for such.

Also every American to lose 10% of body weight.

That is a start.

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