On Monday a Virginia federal district court judge ruled that the primary enforcement mechanism of ObamaCare, the Minimum Essential Coverage Provision—also known as the individual mandate—was unconstitutional.
Justice Henry E. Hudson’s summary judgment did not rule on any other aspect of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and the Obama Justice Department will likely appeal the decision, but the individual mandate is key to making ObamaCare work, since requiring the purchase of health insurance by virtually all U.S. citizens is the only way the rest of the bill can be paid for. Hudson’s ruling provides ammunition to those who argue that requiring people to purchase a product or service against their will is unconstitutional.
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius took two primary lines of defense against the Commonwealth of Virginia, whose Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli filed the suit.
First, she argued that the purchase of health care insurance is an activity that affects interstate commerce, which the Constitution gives the federal government the power to regulate per the Commerce Clause and via the Necessary and Proper Clause. She cited the cases of Wickard v. Filburn, which upheld the government’s ability to regulate farmers’ growing and consumption of wheat on their farms, and Gonzales v. Raich, which upheld the government’s ability to do the same for marijuana for medicinal purposes, as evidence that the government can regulate private individual economic activity due to its effect on interstate commerce. read more »