Constitutional Challenge to the Health Care Bill?

Photo courtesy of
‘Constitution in the National Archives’
courtesy of ‘Mr. T in DC’

Virginia could be the first state to issue a Constitutional challenge to the Health Care legislation passed by the House yesterday. Last Thursday, before the bill had passed, Virginia AG Ken Cuccinelli announced that he would bring suit, stating that the legislation “violate[s] the plain text of both the Ninth and Tenth Amendments.” Presumably, he’s referring to the insurance mandate that would require eligible Americans to purchase health insurance by 2014 or face fines, something the Va. Legislature determined would be illegal several weeks ago. Will this happen? Probably. Cucinelli is, to say the least, a staunch conservative and has the energy to pursue this. Does he have a case? Actually, maybe.  If history has shown anything it’s that the “plain text” of the Constitution is anything but. Still, the 10th Amendment states that powers not specifically enumerated to the Fed by the Constitution belong to the states and the people. The trick is showing that the Fed has overstepped its bounds in this instance. Typically, courts rule in favor of the Federal government in 10th Amendment cases, but they do occasionally swing towards the states’ rights side. With the Supreme Court being fairly conservative, at the moment, anything is possible.

Kirk is a Maine-born, military brat who moved no fewer than 12 times during his childhood. He came to the DC area in 2004 for his undergrad and decided that it was the place for him. Since graduating, he’s nabbed a job with the Fed and spends most of his free time hunting for cheap thrills in the city. Find out why he loves DC.

16 thoughts on “Constitutional Challenge to the Health Care Bill?

  1. Don’t they already require that we have car insurance? Isn’t that constitutional?

  2. That, and you can always opt out of having vehicle insurance by opting out of owning a vehicle, which is a critical distinction. You can’t opt out of having health. ;)

  3. This smells a lot like posturing for the benefits of a political career. Ken is looking to make a name for himself and having a “say” in this legislation will help him get to that end.

    It doesn’t matter if he will win or lose (or if he even has a case). Either way his name will be in the press. Courtesy of us, the taxpayers. The irony is just fascinating.

  4. Well, sure. When was the last time you met an honest politician? On the other side of the coin, it is Cooch’s job to represent the state legally. It’s particularly true in this case as VA has made it clear that they want to challenge the Health Care bill.

  5. “VA has made it clear”. If VA means “the VA Attorney General” you are right. But you can’t say VA “the state” wants it when VA is just like everywhere else – a mix of opinions.

    If the state sued the federal government every time some group was unhappy, we would need a much bigger AG department. And lots of new taxes.

  6. I am laughing at everyone who thinks the states will win.

    A conservative Supreme Court is not going to over-turn this law.

  7. The states may not win, but they may just say NO! What the heck, we are no longer a country of laws and rules. So what, if a state just says no.

  8. I think it should be challenged.Penalizing somebody who cant afford health insurance with a fine is a paradox.Its just another way for govt. to control people.And who wants MORE taxes now,withour FAKE economy and all!

  9. @Aloy

    A challenge wouldn’t necessarily overturn the bill in it’s entirety. In fact, as you point out, there’s really no chance of this happening. The court can, however, to strip out certain provisions within the legislation, such as the mandate.

  10. @Jmarc: There’s an exemption for low income individuals. Most people would have to purchase insurance, but not people below the poverty line.

  11. Penalizing those that can not afford insurance is not what is supposed to happen under the new legislation. Those that can not afford insurance are supposed to be subsided. Those that can, have the choice of paying for insurance or paying a fee that represents the cost they exact on the system for not having health insurance. Sure someone can get adequate health care without insurance, but what happens when they get in a car accident and have 100k or more in bills? Who picks up the bill?

    Under the current system we already pick up the cost of the most expensive customers. The new system would cover those that could not pay for insurance and charge a fee to those who choose to go without insurance impose on the system to represent what they cost everyone else.