Caesar Rodney Institute briefs the constitutionality of the health care individual mandate before the U.S. Supreme Court
On February 13, 2012, the Caesar Rodney Institute filed an amicus curiae or “friend of the court” brief with the U. S. Supreme Court challenging the constitutionality of the individual mandate in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) in, Department of Health & Human Services, et. al., v. State of Florida, et. al. As with our prior briefs that were filed in the cases below in the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, we were represented by Grant M. Lally and Deborah N. Misir of the law firm of Lally & Misir, LLP located in Mineola, NY.
We participated in this case because it will set an important precedent, and have a profound impact on the future liberty and freedom of all U.S. citizens. This case is not just about the fate of the PPACA which imposed an individual mandate on all Americans to purchase health insurance, but rather, more broadly about the limits of the Federal Government’s power under the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
From the Caesar Rodney Institute’s perspective, if there are no meaningful limits on the Federal Government’s Commerce Clause authority, it descends the slippery slope to an unlimited police and general welfare power, and usurps the rights of the States. Our Founding Fathers created a federalist system of government that gave the Federal Government limited, enumerated powers, and reserved the remaining powers to the States in order to better preserve our freedoms. The PPACA guts the federalist structure by using the Federal commerce power to impose, for the first time in U.S. history, a requirement that all Americans purchase a product simply because they are living. If this legislation stands, in the future, the Federal Government could compel Americans to buy other private products or otherwise intrude more deeply into our personal lives, all under the pretext of the interstate commerce power.
In the cases below, we argued that the PPACA lacked a jurisdictional element or limiting principle, and that the statute’s Congressional findings did not support the imposition of an individual mandate on all Americans. We focused on these arguments because they had not been briefed by the parties or the numerous other amici. The Eleventh Circuit agreed with our arguments and used them in support of its decision finding the individual mandate unconstitutional. In addition, the DC Circuit, while upholding the individual mandate, noted in its decision that it was troubled by the lack of a limiting principle in the PPACA, and asked the U.S. Supreme Court to step in and decide the issue.
In our brief to the U.S. Supreme Court, we reiterated our arguments on jurisdictional element and Congressional findings, and developed an additional issue for the Court’s consideration. Specifically, we also argued that the Federal commerce power does not authorize the Federal Government to compel Americans to purchase private products from a set of favored merchants or businessmen, and flies in the face of centuries of common law norms.
The individual freedoms and liberties we enjoy as Americans have been built over generations of struggle first against kings and then ideologies which promote the collective State over the freedom of individuals. We believe the overreach of the Federal Government in this statute is unprecedented, and the PPACA represents a major step in a series of Governmental actions and overreach that cuts at the core of our freedom and liberty. Our Constitution is unique in its protection of the rights and liberty of the individual over the Federal Government. If the direction the PPACA is taking our country in is not vigorously opposed, the essence of our Constitution is lost, and that which makes the United States exceptional, ceases to be reality.
Submitted by Robert Prybutok, Director, the Caesar Rodney Institute
President & CEO Polymer Technologies Inc.