The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (which is known as ObamaCare) was immediately challenged by several lawsuits. The state of Virginia filed one lawsuit, and 20 other states joined a lawsuit filed in Florida. Both these cases test whether Congress has the power under the U.S. Constitution to compel Americans to buy a product (namely, health insurance) they may not want. Section 1501 of ObamaCare requires all Americans to buy a government-approved health insurance plan or else pay a penalty, which the government is now describing as a tax.
The argument is that forcing Americans to buy insurance cannot be considered economic activity authorized by the Commerce Clause in the U.S. Constitution because the Commerce Clause has never been interpreted so broadly as to include NOT doing something.
The majority of Americans oppose Obamacare and are calling for its repeal, so they cheer these lawsuits. Nobody knows what the judges will eventually rule, but one Clinton-appointed judge has already held that the individual mandate is constitutional because otherwise “there would be an incentive for some individuals to wait to purchase health insurance until they need care, knowing that insurance would be available at all times.” That judge's argument is that, since reforming the health insurance market is a constitutional goal, therefore the necessary means to that end must also be constitutional. Critics quickly pointed out that the end should not justify the means.
It will be years before the various court challenges to ObamaCare are finally resolved, but already one aspect is significant. Not since the Civil War have so many States asserted states' rights above the power of the federal government. Meanwhile, polls show that a majority of Americans are hoping that the newly elected Congress will repeal Obamacare.
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