We’ve all heard the theory before, that Conservatives only care about the Constitution when it benefits them directly. Otherwise, it’s just a document that stands in the way of their acceptance of the fact that we all have certain unalienable rights; Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. Well today this theory was on full display for all to see.
For today one particular conservative decided to apply the theory and in doing so attempted to deny Life, Liberty and Pursuit of Happiness to the people of his state, the people he’d been sworn to protect , his constituents in Virginia.
The person? Ken Cuccinelli, Attorney General for the state of Virginia. Mr. Cuccinelli brought a lawsuit against the Federal Government questioning the constitutionality of the individual mandate of the Health Care Reform Law – a mandate that requires all individuals to purchase health insurance by 2014, when new consumer protections provided by the law goes into effect.
The argument, according to Cuccinelli and various other mainly Republican governors bringing similar lawsuits against the government , is that the law’s requirement to purchase insurance goes against the Commerce Clause in the constitution (Article 1, Section 8, Clause 3), and thus being unconstitutional.
The Federal Government has maintained the validity of the mandate as being well within the powers given to Congress and have maintained that if the Supreme Court rules against the mandate then other major parts of the law will also be affected. The major areas depending on the implementation of the individual mandate includes providing insurance coverage to 30 million additional Americans and denying insurance companies the ability to drop policy holders when they become sick.
This same argument by Ken Cuccinelli has been struck down by two other federal judges in Detroit and Lynchburg, Virginia. They have both upheld the constitutionality of the law.
Today however, a judge appointed by former President George Bush heard the case presented by Ken Cuccinelli and found the individual mandate to be unconstitutional. In a 42 page opinion by Judge Henry E. Hudson, the Bush appointee wrote that requiring people to purchase health insurance goes further than what the commerce clause in the constitution awarded congress. Therefore, according to this particular judge, Ken Cuccinelli was right in his fight to deny health insurance to the people of Virginia. The judge wrote;
“”Neither the Supreme Court nor any federal circuit court of appeals has extended Commerce Clause powers to compel an individual to involuntarily enter the stream of commerce by purchasing a commodity in the private market. In doing so, enactment of the [individual mandate] exceeds the Commerce Clause powers vested in Congress under Article I [of the Constitution.]”
Ken Cuccinelli took this ruling as the Constitution working for him, and to prove the theory expressed at the beginning of this piece, he goes on to defend the Constitution, saying;
“I am gratified we prevailed. This won’t be the final round, as this will ultimately be decided by the Supreme Court, but today is a critical milestone in the protection of the Constitution.”
“Protection of the Constitution” when it supports your position, but rallying against it when it does not, is something Conservatives have mastered. We all remember the various cries for changes to the Constitution these same Conservatives and Republicans demanded, as recently as a few months ago. They wanted changes to the 18th, 14th and 10th amendment, and just about any other part of the document that did not favor their position.
But today, Ken Cuccinelli wants to protect it.
However, the ruling today was expected and will not derail the implementation of the law, which is scheduled to go into full effect in 2014. There are still about two dozen cases brought by Republican governors against the Health Care law but ultimately the Supreme Court will be the judicial body deciding what will actually go into law and what will be their implementations.
A spokesperson for the Department of Justice issued a statement expressing the views of the Administration. The statement by Tracy Schmalar said;
“We are disappointed in today’s ruling but continue to believe – as other federal courts in Virginia and Michigan have found – that the Affordable Care Act is constitutional. There is clear and well-established legal precedent that Congress acted within its constitutional authority in passing this law, and we are confident that we will ultimately prevail.”
We will continue to watch as it will only be a matter of time before the Constitution will once again, be the enemy of the Conservatives.
- Obama, the Constitutional Lawyer shot down by judge (nowpublic.com)
- Breaking: Federal Judge Rules ObamaCare Unconstitutional (Updated) (pajamasmedia.com)
- Virginia court rules against health care mandate (washingtonmonthly.com)