Nearly 100 grassroots activists, elected officials and candidates for office attended the Prince William and Manassas Family Alliance Gala dinner Monday evening where they were addressed by Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. The AG updated the guests on the lawsuit filed by his office defending Virginians from the federal government's new individual mandate to buy health care insurance and its violation of Virginia's new Health Care Freedom Act, passed with bipartisan support this past General Assembly session, as well as the U.S. Constitution's 1oth Amendment and interstate commerce clause. (Click here for the Manassas News & Messenger's coverage.) Interestingly, Mr. Cuccinelli referenced George Washington University Law School professor, and oft quoted, Jonathan Turley who has argued that the federal health care act could be the final blow to the Founder’s vision of federalism. Should Cuccinelli's suit, or the others being brought by nearly two dozen states, fail, Turley insinuates that there would then be very little left outside the control or influence of the federal government. Mr. Cuccinelli added that if the government can compel its citizens to purchase one product (health insurance) there is nothing to stop it from purchasing another product (say, a car made by GM).
Essentially, he is arguing that individual citizens who do not have health insurance are thus not participating in the "interstate commerce" of health care insurance, and so cannot be compelled to purchase it by the federal government under the interstate commerce clause. Case law surrounding the interstate commerce clause is lengthy and confusing to say the least. However, there appears to be no other example where the courts have ruled economic inactivity to be interstate commerce (one exception being from 1792 when Congress compelled people to buy guns — really).
Ultimately, this case is likely to be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. The AG doesn't think that will take place until at least mid-2012. The individual mandate in the health care bill doesn’t take effect until 2014.
Currently, 21 states, including Virginia, are involved with some type of lawsuit against the federal government concerning the health care law. The two primary suits are in Virginia and Florida. Mr. Cuccinelli urged the crowd Monday night to take advantage of the times to educate and inform their friends and family, particularly their children, on the first principles of our nation’s founding documents, such as the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. Many people today do not know enough about our Founding or what those documents say to understand the implications of the federal government's take over of what has always been a private enterprise.
Few disagree that there is need for some type of health reform in our nation. At The Family Foundation we struggle each year to pay the ever-increasing cost of health care for our staff. But few outside the beltway, or among the academic left, believe that the federal government is capable of managing our nation’s health care system wisely.