27 of 50 States Now Challenging Constitutionality of Obamacare in Court

January 19, 2011 - 12:41 PM

Maine Atty. Gen. William Schneider

Atty. Gen. William Schneider of Maine announced that his state has joined a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Obamacare. (AP Photo/Pat Wellenbach)

(CNSNews.com) - More than half of the states—27 out of 50—are now challenging the constitutionality of Obamacare in federal court.

Six additional states--Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Ohio, Wisconsin and Wyoming--petitioned in federal court on Tuesday to join Florida’s law suit challenging the constitutionality of the health care law President Barack Obama signed last March. Nineteen states had previously joined with Florida in this suit, making the total number of states that are now a party to the suit 26.

Virginia, which has filed its own lawsuit against Obamacare, is the 27th state challenging the constitutionality of the health-care law in federal court. (A complete list of all 27 states appears at the bottom of this story.)

Florida’s suit challenges the constitutionality of Obamacare on two grounds, arguing that the law’s mandate that individuals must buy health insurance exceeds the legitimate power granted to the federal government to regulate interstate commerce under the Commerce Clause of the Constitution and also that the mandates the law imposes on state governments to expand their Medicaid programs violates the 10th Amendment, which limits the federal government to the powers delegated to it by the Constitution.

Virginia's lawsuit challenges the constitutionality of the individual mandate.

In December, Judge Henry Hudson of the U.S. District Court in Richmond, Va., sided with Virginia in that case, ruling that the Constitution does not give the federal government the power to force individuals to buy health insurance.

The Florida-led case is currently before U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson in Pensacola, Fla. Oral arguments were held on Dec. 16.  Judge Vinson has not issued a ruling yet.

Ultimately, the cases will be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.

“This lawsuit is about standing up for the rule of law and protecting the liberties guaranteed by our Constitution,” Kansas Atty. Gen. Derek Schmidt said in a statement. “Our federal government is designed to be a government of limited, enumerated powers, and we do not believe it has the power to order citizens into commerce so it can then regulate their conduct under authority of the Commerce Clause. Whatever the merits or demerits of health care reform, the ends cannot justify the unconstitutional means.”

Maine Atty. Gen. William Schneider said in statement, “The federal health care reform law mandates that all citizens to purchase health insurance or pay a costly penalty. This would be an unprecedented expansion of federal power, violating the 10th Amendment and the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution.”

“The federal government simply does not have the right to force someone to buy a product--be it health insurance or any other type of goods or services that an individual may or may not want – or face a penalty,” Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said in a statement.

Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen said the “Constitution places limits on the power of the federal government, and these limits must be defended or they will disappear.

“Never before has the federal government required an individual to either buy government-approved insurance or pay a penalty,” Van Hollen continued. “And nowhere does the Constitution authorize Congress to regulate in this manner.”

The National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB), which advocates for small businesses, has also joined Florida’s suit against Obamacare.

“Having more than half of the nation’s states involved in this case along with NFIB, who represents more than 350,000 small businesses nationwide, sends a strong message to the courts that this law is detrimental to the entire nation and must be overturned,” said Karen Harned, executive director, NFIB Small Business Legal Center.

These are the 27 states now challenging Obamacare in federal: Florida, South Carolina, Nebraska, Texas, Utah, Louisiana, Alabama, Colorado, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Washington, Idaho, South Dakota, Indiana, North Dakota, Mississippi, Nevada, Arizona, Georgia, Alaska, Ohio, Wisconsin, Maine, Iowa, Wyoming, Kansas and Virginia.