26 States Join Suit Against Obamacare

Virginia Federal Judge had ruled unconstitutional the mandate to purchase health insurance.

Fox News.com
January 20, 2011

Six more states joined a lawsuit in Florida against President Obama’s health care overhaul on Tuesday, meaning more than half of the country is challenging the law.

The announcement was made as House members in Washington, led by Republicans, debated whether to repeal the law.

The six additional states joined Florida and 19 others in the legal action, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi said.

“It sends a strong message that more than half of the states consider the health care law unconstitutional and are willing to fight it in court,” she said in a statement.

The states claim the health care law is unconstitutional and violates people’s rights by forcing them to buy health insurance by 2014 or face penalties.

Government attorneys have said the states do not have standing to challenge the law and want the case dismissed.

Lawsuits have been filed elsewhere. A federal judge in Virginia ruled in December that the insurance-purchase mandate was unconstitutional, though two other federal judges have upheld the requirement. It’s expected the Supreme Court will ultimately have to resolve the issue.

“It is important to note that two of the three courts that have reviewed this law on the merits have found it constitutional, and those decisions –as well as two others the government prevailed on — are pending in courts of appeal. At the same time, trial courts in additional cases have dismissed numerous challenges on jurisdictional and other grounds that have not been appealed,” Justice Department spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler said.

Meanwhile, the White House dismissed an expected vote on repealing the law, saying the Republicans’ push was not a serious legislative effort. Democrats have a majority in the Senate and they have said they will block repeal in that chamber.

In the Florida case, the states also argue the federal government is violating the Constitution by forcing a mandate on the states without providing money to pay for it. They say the new law gives the state’s the impossible choice of accepting the new costs or forfeiting federal Medicaid funding.

Florida U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson could rule later this month whether he will grant a summary judgment in favor of the states or the Obama administration without a trial.

Florida’s former Republican Attorney General Bill McCollum filed the lawsuit just minutes after President Obama signed the 10-year, $938 billion health care bill into law in March. He chose a court in Pensacola, one of Florida’s most conservative cities. The nation’s most influential small business lobby, the National Federation of Independent Business, also joined the suit.

Joining the coalition in the Florida case were: Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Ohio, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

The other states that are suing are Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Indiana, Idaho, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and Washington.

Checkmate on Obama’s Tax Care

American Spectator

In order to protect the new national health care law from legal challenges, the Obama administration has been forced to argue that

The Obama Administration has confessed to Obamacare being a tax after citizens legally challenge the system.

the individual mandate represents a tax — even though Obama himself argued the exact opposite while campaigning to pass the legislation.

Late last night, the Obama Department of Justice filed a motion to dismiss the Florida-based lawsuit against the health care law, arguing that the court lacks jurisdiction and that the State of Florida and fellow plaintiffs haven’t presented a claim for which the court can grant relief. To bolster its case, the DOJ cited the Anti-Injunction Act, which restricts courts from interfering with the government’s ability to collect taxes.

The Act, according to a DOJ memo supporting the motion to dismiss, says that “no suit for the purpose of restraining the assessment or collection of any tax shall be maintained in any court by any person, whether or not such person is the person against whom such tax was assessed.” The memo goes on to say that it makes no difference whether the disputed payment it is called a “tax” or “penalty,” because either way, it’s “assessed and collected in the same manner” by the Internal Revenue Service.

But this is a characterization that Democrats, and specifically Obama, angrily denounced during the health care debate. Most prominently, in an interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, Obama argued that the mandate was “absolutely not a tax increase,” and he dug into his view even after being confronted with a dictionary definition:

OBAMA: George, the fact that you looked up Merriam’s Dictionary, the definition of tax increase, indicates to me that you’re stretching a little bit right now. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have gone to the dictionary to check on the definition. I mean what…

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, no, but…

OBAMA: …what you’re saying is…

STEPHANOPOULOS: I wanted to check for myself. But your critics say it is a tax increase.

OBAMA: My critics say everything is a tax increase. My critics say that I’m taking over every sector of the economy. You know that. Look, we can have a legitimate debate about whether or not we’re going to have an individual mandate or not, but…

STEPHANOPOULOS: But you reject that it’s a tax increase?

OBAMA: I absolutely reject that notion.

At the time Obama made that statement, the Senate Finance Committee had just released its own health care bill, which clearly referred to the mandate penalty as an “excise tax.” But in later versions, the word “tax” was stripped, because it had become too much of a political liability for Democrats. The final version that Obama signed did not describe the mandate as a tax, and used the Commerce Clause — not federal taxing power — as the Constitutional justification for the mandate.

“”This is an about face from what is laid out in the law,” said Karen Harned of the National Federation of Independent Business, which joined the Florida lawsuit against ObamaCare. “In the text of the healthcare law, the findings for passing an individual mandate specifically rely on the effects of individuals on the national economy and interstate commerce. Nowhere in the findings is the mandate referred to as a tax. The Justice Department is now calling it a tax to try and convince the court not to rule on whether or not Congress exceeded their authority under the Commerce Clause by legislating that all citizens must purchase private health insurance or face a penalty.”

Put another way, the administration is now arguing in federal court that Obama signed a massive middle-class tax increase, in violation of his campaign pledge.