We sat back and smiled and cheered even as Ronald Reagan took office. He and his minions then began to change the government little by little, almost imperceptibly at first. When he took office we had a government that was for the people. By the time he left office we had a government that was for the corporations. This type of government has continued more or less unchecked. Judicial appointments became more and more conservative as the years went by. Appointments under George W. Bush were so conservative that they would label Richard Nixon and even some of Ronald Reagan’s ideas liberal.
A district judge in Virginia ruled that the Affordable Care Act’s individual requirement to purchase health care coverage violated the Commerce Clause of the Constitution, but did not issue an injunction baring enforcement of the provision. “The power of Congress to regulate a class of activities that in the aggregate has a substantial and direct effect on interstate commerce is well settled,” Judge Henry Hudson — a George W. Bush appointee — writes in the ruling, before adding, “but these regulatory powers are triggered by some type of self-initiated action”:
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 Minimum Essential Coverage Provision exceeds the Commerce Clause powers vested in Congress under Article 1.
Because an individual’s personal decision to purchase — or decline to purchase — health insurance from a private provider is beyond the historical reach of the Commerce Clause, the Necessary and Proper Clause does not provide a safe sanctuary. …The Minimum Essential Coverage Provision is neither within the letter nor the spirit
The opinion represents a victory for Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R), but the decision stands alone within the broader context of existing court challenges. Since President Obama signed health reform into law on March 23, opponents have filed at least 20 separate suits against the legislation. Federal judges have dismissed 14 of these challenges, and at least two separate judges disagreed with Hudson’s interpretation and questioned the merit of the plaintiffs’ claim that compelling individuals to purchase insurance fell outside the purview of the Commerce Clause. As Judge George Caram Steeh of the Eastern District of Michigan put it in October, forgoing insurance and putting off needed care only increases the costs of coverage and raises everyone’s premiums:
There is a rational basis to conclude that, in the aggregate, decisions to forego insurance coverage in preference to attempting to pay for health care out of pocket drive up the cost of insurance. The costs of caring for the uninsured who prove unable to pay are shifted to health care providers, to the insured population in the form of higher premiums, to governments, and to taxpayers. The decision whether to purchase insurance or to attempt to pay for health care out of pocket, is plainly economic. These decisions, viewed in the aggregate, have clear and direct impacts on health care providers, taxpayers, and the insured population who ultimately pay for the care provided to those who go without insurance. These are the economic effects addressed by Congress in enacting the Act and the minimum coverage provision.
Editor’s Note: The Attorney General in this case and the Honorable Judge Henry Hudson seem to have some financial ties. Ethics?