A Federal judge in Pennsylvania ruled against President Barack Obama’s plan to require all Americans to purchase health insurance or face penalties, saying the mandate exceeds the powers granted both the President and Congress by the Constitution.
Federal District Judge Christopher C. Conner said the Federal government’s power to regulate interstate commerce does not give it the power to force individual citizens to unwillingly purchase any product, including health insurance.
Barbara Goudy-Bachman and Gregory Bachman, a married couple with children, opt to pay for health-related expenses out of pocket with savings, and sued Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius over the mandate. The couple, who are self-employed, dropped their own health coverage because it exceeded the cost of their mortgage payments. They said the 2014 mandatory insurance infringed upon their right to choose a proper method of caring for their family.
The Judge’s opinion did not agree completely with the couple on all issues, but did challenge the right of Federal government to meddle in personal affairs. An excerpt from the opinion follows:
This court’s role in that system is to assess the matters presented before it on the basis of the constitutional text and Supreme Court guidance, consonant with the principles of stare decisis. See Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. (1 Cranch) 137 (1803). The minimum coverage provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act exceeds Congress’s authority under the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution. The court does not reach this conclusion because the alternative would be disastrous to this nation’s future, such as the Bachman’s prediction of America evolving into a socialist state. These suggestions of cataclysmic results stemming from Article III authorization of an individual mandate are both unproductive and unpersuasive. Should the Supreme Court determine that the Commerce Clause extends to anticipatory mandates, or, that the health care market is unique for purposes of Commerce Clause analysis, the Supreme Court will delineate clear limits to that power. Until that occurs, the minimum coverage provision of the Patent Protection and Affordable Care Act cannot withstand constitutional scrutiny.
The case will join the ranks of 30 different lawsuits in various Federal jurisdictions around the country challenging the Obama healthcare plan. Separate lawsuits have already reached appeals courts in Richmond, Va., Atlanta and Cincinnati. The issue will most likely ultimately land on the bench of the Supreme Court.