Commentary Magazine


Topic: United States District Court

Is It Worth It?

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli is pushing back against Democrats’ complaints that he is wasting the Commonwealth’s money in suing to declare ObamaCare unconstitutional. Well, aside from the obligation of all elected officials to defend the Constitution, it seems it’s as smart a use of public funds as one could possibly find. In a news release, the AG explains:

The court filing fee for the case of Commonwealth v. Kathleen Sebelius in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia was $350.  There has been no additional cost above this amount, as the litigation is being handled entirely by the attorney general’s staff.  The office also does not expect much outside cost, as outside counsel has not been retained.

Additionally, since the case is centered around a purely legal constitutional argument, the office anticipates no material costs for things such as discovery, witnesses, etc.

If the suit is successful, the savings to the Commonwealth of Virginia alone is estimated by the governor’s office to be about $1.1 billion from 2015-2022.  This is because if the health care reform act remains law, Virginia would realize an additional $1.1 billion in costs for the new Medicaid requirements called for in the act.  This savings figure does not take in to account the tax and fee savings to individuals and businesses if the federal law is struck down as unconstitutional.

That is $1.1 billion for a middle-sized state. If you think the fiscal impact of ObamaCare and the hue and cry resulting from the gush of red ink it will send spewing forth will be limited to the federal government, think again. All 50 states and  their elected officials will be coping with this — or trying to figure out how to rip it out before it wrecks not only the federal budget but state and local ones as well.

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli is pushing back against Democrats’ complaints that he is wasting the Commonwealth’s money in suing to declare ObamaCare unconstitutional. Well, aside from the obligation of all elected officials to defend the Constitution, it seems it’s as smart a use of public funds as one could possibly find. In a news release, the AG explains:

The court filing fee for the case of Commonwealth v. Kathleen Sebelius in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia was $350.  There has been no additional cost above this amount, as the litigation is being handled entirely by the attorney general’s staff.  The office also does not expect much outside cost, as outside counsel has not been retained.

Additionally, since the case is centered around a purely legal constitutional argument, the office anticipates no material costs for things such as discovery, witnesses, etc.

If the suit is successful, the savings to the Commonwealth of Virginia alone is estimated by the governor’s office to be about $1.1 billion from 2015-2022.  This is because if the health care reform act remains law, Virginia would realize an additional $1.1 billion in costs for the new Medicaid requirements called for in the act.  This savings figure does not take in to account the tax and fee savings to individuals and businesses if the federal law is struck down as unconstitutional.

That is $1.1 billion for a middle-sized state. If you think the fiscal impact of ObamaCare and the hue and cry resulting from the gush of red ink it will send spewing forth will be limited to the federal government, think again. All 50 states and  their elected officials will be coping with this — or trying to figure out how to rip it out before it wrecks not only the federal budget but state and local ones as well.

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RE: What the Health-Care Bill Means

John, the opponents are wasting no time with the legal challenges. In my e-mail box bright and early is a message from the Virginia attorney general (a conservative swept into office on a wave of anti-Obama sentiment):

The Office of the Attorney General of Virginia will move forward with our lawsuit against the federal government and its unconstitutional overreach of its authority with the passage of the federal health care bill. We will file our complaint with the court as soon as the president signs it into law.

With this law, the federal government will force citizens to buy health insurance, claiming it has the authority to do so because of its power to regulate interstate commerce. We contend that if a person decides not to buy health insurance, that person — by definition — is not engaging in commerce, and therefore, is not subject to a federal mandate.

Virginia is in a unique situation that allows it the standing to file such a suit since Virginia is the only state so far to pass a law protecting its citizens from a government-imposed mandate to buy health insurance. The health care reform bill, with its insurance mandate, creates a conflict of laws between the federal government and Virginia. Normally, such conflicts are decided in favor of the federal government, but because we believe the federal law is unconstitutional, Virginia’s law should prevail.

Just being alive is not interstate commerce. If it were, there would be no limit to the U.S. Constitution’s commerce clause and to Congress’s authority to regulate everything we do. There has never been a point in our history where the federal government has been given the authority to require citizens to buy goods or services. … The suit will be filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Richmond Division.

You can imagine that dozens of suits will follow. This then becomes an issue in every state attorney general’s race. And in state legislative races, Republican candidates will promise to pass state laws prohibiting mandatory insurance. ObamaCare then becomes the issue not only in every congressional and Senate race but in state races too. It is in some ways a GOP-campaign godsend.

John, the opponents are wasting no time with the legal challenges. In my e-mail box bright and early is a message from the Virginia attorney general (a conservative swept into office on a wave of anti-Obama sentiment):

The Office of the Attorney General of Virginia will move forward with our lawsuit against the federal government and its unconstitutional overreach of its authority with the passage of the federal health care bill. We will file our complaint with the court as soon as the president signs it into law.

With this law, the federal government will force citizens to buy health insurance, claiming it has the authority to do so because of its power to regulate interstate commerce. We contend that if a person decides not to buy health insurance, that person — by definition — is not engaging in commerce, and therefore, is not subject to a federal mandate.

Virginia is in a unique situation that allows it the standing to file such a suit since Virginia is the only state so far to pass a law protecting its citizens from a government-imposed mandate to buy health insurance. The health care reform bill, with its insurance mandate, creates a conflict of laws between the federal government and Virginia. Normally, such conflicts are decided in favor of the federal government, but because we believe the federal law is unconstitutional, Virginia’s law should prevail.

Just being alive is not interstate commerce. If it were, there would be no limit to the U.S. Constitution’s commerce clause and to Congress’s authority to regulate everything we do. There has never been a point in our history where the federal government has been given the authority to require citizens to buy goods or services. … The suit will be filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Richmond Division.

You can imagine that dozens of suits will follow. This then becomes an issue in every state attorney general’s race. And in state legislative races, Republican candidates will promise to pass state laws prohibiting mandatory insurance. ObamaCare then becomes the issue not only in every congressional and Senate race but in state races too. It is in some ways a GOP-campaign godsend.

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