The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia granted summary judgment today in favor of the Commonwealth of Virginia’s legal challenge to the recently enacted federal healthcare overhaul. The case, Commonwealth of Va. v. Sebelius, arises from Virginia’s constitutional challenge to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), a federal law containing an individual mandate that would require all uninsured Americans, under threat of civil penalty, to purchase health insurance for themselves and their dependents.
The decision was a victory for WLF, which filed a brief in the case on behalf of fourteen constitutional scholars arguing that even the broadest Supreme Court precedents do not give Congress the authority to compel Americans to purchase a product they do not want. Relying on leading Supreme Court precedent, WLF argued that an individual’s passive status as “uninsured” simply does not implicate the traditional Commerce Clause power because it does not constitute “activity” in interstate commerce. As a result, both the PPACA’s individual mandate and its penalty provision exceed the outer limits of Congress’s power under the Commerce Clause. Judge Henry Hudson largely adopted this reasoning in his order today. Continue reading