AFLC Challenges Obamacare in the U.S. Supreme Court

Today, the American Freedom Law Center filed a “friend of the court” brief in the U.S. Supreme Court, asking the high court to strike down the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare.”  Specifically, AFLC asked the Court to hold that Congress exceeded its constitutional authority by forcing private citizens to purchase “minimum essential” healthcare coverage (the individual mandate) under penalty of federal law.  And because this mandate is an essential component of the new healthcare law, AFLC argued that it is not severable.  Therefore, under controlling precedent, the Court should strike down Obamacare in its entirety.  The brief was authored by AFLC Senior Counsel Robert J. Muise and David Yerushalmi.

As Muise and Yerushalmi argued in their brief, “If the Act is understood to fall within Congress’s Commerce Clause authority, the federal government will have the absolute and unfettered power to create complex regulatory schemes to fix every perceived problem imaginable and to do so by ordering private citizens to engage in affirmative acts, under penalty of law, such as eating certain foods, taking vitamins, losing weight, joining health clubs, buying a GMC truck, or purchasing an AIG insurance policy, among others.”  Consequently, Congress will be incentivized to create intrusive regulatory schemes as constitutional cover for naked power grabs, thereby turning the Constitution on its head.”

Muise commented, “There is no enumerated power in the Constitution that permits Congress to mandate private citizens to purchase healthcare coverage or face a penalty.  No matter how convinced Obama—or even the American public in general—may be that the new healthcare law is in the public interest, Obama’s political objectives can only be accomplished in accord with the Constitution.”

Read AFLC’s brief here.

On March 23, 2010, the day President Obama signed the new healthcare bill into law, Muise and Yerushalmi filed the first federal challenge to the individual mandate.  Muise later argued the case against the acting Solicitor General of the United States before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.  In a sharply divided opinion (2 to 1), the Sixth Circuit upheld Congress’ authority to enact the mandate.  Muise and Yerushalmi petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to hear that case.  Read more about that case here.  However, the Court decided to review the case arising out of Florida.  The AFLC brief filed today was filed in the Florida case.  AFLC’s petition is being held, pending the Court’s decision.