Tag Archives | Health Care Bill Lawsuits

Standing and Ripeness Issues in the Lawsuits Against Obamacare

This is the first in my projected series of posts on issues likely to arise in the various lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the Obama health care bill. To briefly recap, the lawsuits in question are one filed by 13 state governments challenging the individual mandate and various mandates and grant conditions imposed by the states, one independent suit filed by the state of Virginia, and a little-noticed but potentially important case filed by the Thomas More Law Center on behalf of four individual citizens who object to the individual mandate and refuse to obey it.

The really important issues raised by these suits have to do with federalism, the Commerce Clause, and Congress’ power to tax. However, administration lawyers will probably try to get the lawsuits dismissed on procedural grounds of standing and ripeness.

As discussed below, I think eventually a case will arise that meets even the most rigid standing and ripeness standards. At the very least, it should be possible to bring such a suit once the individual mandate takes effect in 2014. By that time, however, public anger against the health care bill might have diminished, at least some parts of the bill will have been implemented, and it will be much harder to uproot. Thus, it is in the Obama administration’s interest to persuade the courts to postpone consideration of these issues for as long as it can.

I. Standing.

The Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled that citizens cannot file federal lawsuits challenging a statute unless they have 1) suffered some sort of past or imminent material injury, 2) the injury was caused by the law, and 3) it can be redressed by a judicial decision. I think it’s fairly clear that the individual citizens represented by the TMLC fit [...]

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Lawsuits Against the Health Care Bill

The Publius blog a helpful post linking information on the various lawsuits recently filed against the Obama health care bill. In addition to the suit filed by 13 states and a separate suit by the state of Virginia, there is a little-noticed lawsuit challenging the individual mandate brought by the conservative Thomas More Law Center on behalf of several individuals who say they refuse to purchase health insurance. The little-known TMLC case could turn out to be important if the states’ challenges to the individual mandate are dismissed for lack of standing or on other procedural grounds that may not apply to individual citizens who (unlike the states) are directly subject to the mandate.

When time permits, I plan to write posts on the three lawsuits, discussing some of the legal issues involved. For now, I will briefly that there are three sets of issues that arise:

I. Procedural questions related to standing and ripeness. Because the mandate doesn’t take effect until 2014, administration lawyers will almost certainly argue that the case isn’t ripe yet. They will also argue that the plaintiffs, especially the states (which are not directly subject to the mandate) don’t have standing.

II. The constitutionality of the individual mandate. In my view, Congress doesn’t have the power to enact this mandate under either the Commerce Clause or its power to tax. Obviously, the administration has a very different view.

III. The two lawsuits filed by the states also challenge the constitutionality of various mandates and federal funding conditions that the bill imposes directly on state governments. This part of the lawsuits faces tougher sledding than the part challenging the individual mandate. For years, the Court has (wrongly in my view) taken a very permissive attitude towards the constitutionality of federal funding of state governments [...]

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