Judicial Watch Files Brief with U.S. Supreme Court Challenging Constitutionality of Obamacare

On February 13, 2012, Judicial Watch filed an amicus curiae brief with the High Court challenging the constitutionality of Obamacare, specifically the “individual mandate.” The Supreme Court has scheduled oral arguments for the Obamacare case on March 26, 27, and 28, 2012.

The brief maintains that the “individual mandate” provision of Obamacare, which requires every American citizen to purchase health care insurance or pay a penalty, is unconstitutional – whether considered under Congress’ commerce power or taxing power:

Petitioners are trying to defend a provision in an act passed by Congress that exceeds its enumerated powers. Though Congress enacted this provision under the Commerce Clause, Congress’ power under the clause is not broad enough to compel Americans to engage in commerce by purchasing a particular product. Though Petitioners try to rescue the provision by arguing that it is valid under Congress’ taxing power even if it is invalid under Congress’ commerce power, a provision of an act that is not a tax may not be construed as a tax merely to save it from being declared unconstitutional.

Judicial Watch lawyers point out that if the Supreme Court affirms the constitutionality of the individual mandate, “it must be willing to hold that Congress’ powers under the Commerce clause are plenary and unlimited, for there remains no principled way to limit Congress’ power if it is stretched as far as Petitioners [the Obama administration] ask.”


Florida federal district judge Roger Vinson perhaps put it more colorfully when he struck down the law in its entirety last year. If the government can force American taxpayers to buy health insurance, it can also force them to decide “whether and when (or not) to buy a house, a car, a television, a dinner or even a morning cup of coffee.”

The Judicial Watch amicus was filed in support of a challenge to Obamacare by Florida and 25 other states.

Demonstrating the importance of the legal battle over Obamacare, the Supreme Court will hear five-and-a-half hours of oral argument, a rare allotment of time in the court’s modern era. (The standard is one hour.) The Supreme Court’s scrutiny will focus on the constitutionality of the Obamacare individual mandate. However, the court will also consider whether other components of Obamacare could take effect even if the individual mandate is ruled unconstitutional, among other issues.

In a December 14, 2010, editorial published in The Washington Post, Attorney General Eric Holder and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius argued that the individual mandate is essential to Obamacare: “Without an individual responsibility provision (or mandate), controlling costs and ending discrimination against people with preexisting conditions doesn’t work.”In other words, not even the Obama administration itself believes the law can survive if the individual mandate is struck down.

Judicial Watch has been extremely active in the Obamacare debate right from the beginning. It has fought for transparency over the Obamacare waivers, ultimately discovering that Big Labor was taking in a disproportionate haul. It has exposed the Obama administration’s taxpayer-funded, multi-media propaganda campaign featuring television actor Andy Griffith.

Judicial Watch has also fought for records detailing Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan’s involvement in any Obamacare defense discussions when she served as Obama’s Solicitor General. (It uncovered documents that raised questions about her role, causing a national uproar about her continued involvement in the High Court’s Obamacare deliberations.)

The time has come for the Supreme Court to put an end to Obamacare once and for all. The President’s socialist healthcare overhaul is an affront to the U.S. Constitution’s provisions for limited government and, as you can see with the anti-religion Obamacare contraception mandate, a fundamental threat to our God-given freedoms.


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