Since the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” (often called ObamaCare) became law on March 23, 2010, several lawsuits have been filed to challenge its constitutionality; most notable among them are the lawsuit filed by 20 States, as well as other plaintiffs, led by Florida. All challenge the individual mandate set forth in the statute, under which all Americans must purchase health care insurance or pay a penalty, as well as other provisions, as conflicting with the Constitution.
During the national debate regarding ObamaCare, Speaker Pelosi said memorably, regarding the 1,000 pages of legislation that almost no one had read, “[W]e have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it . . . .” Over the last six months, a bill that the American people thought was bad (54% opposed its passage) has become the law that is worse than they had imagined (67% of “mainstream voters” today demand that it be repealed).
Prior to its enactment, the Congressional Budge Office (CBO) claimed that the statute would be revenue neutral; however, in the days and months since, the CBO is less sanguine about its impact on the economy. Moreover, recent responses of the marketplace and small businesses reflect a belief that ObamaCare spells disaster for the U.S. economy and for businesses.
Noting that, for the first time in American history, Congress has ordered every American to make a specific purchase, that is, health insurance, simply because Congress says that it is in the national interest, MSLF argues that, if the Commerce Clause permits Congress to issue this individual mandate, there are no limits to what Congress may do. In addition, MSLF argues that America’s embrace of limited government of specific enumerated powers began in the pre-Revolutionary Days, continued through the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights, and has been upheld by the federal judiciary, including the U.S. Supreme Court.
Liberty University filed its lawsuit the day the statute was signed into law. On November 30, 2010, the district court ruled that the decision not to purchase health care insurance is an “economic decision” that Congress may regulate and dismissed the complaint.
On December 1, 2010, Liberty University filed its notice of appeal. On January 18, 2011, Liberty University filed its opening brief. On January 21, MSLF filed an amicus curiae brief in support of Liberty University. On February 19, 2011, the federal government filed its response brief. On March 7, 2011, Liberty University filed its reply brief. On May 10, 2011, oral arguments were heard in seriatim with Commonwealth of Virginia v. Sebelius. On September 8, 2011, the Fourth Circuit ruled that Liberty University lacked standing because the "penalty" set forth in ObamaCare is a "tax" and, under Anti-Injunction Act no lawsuit may be filed challenging the tax until it has been paid.
Liberty University v. Geithner, No. 10-2347 (4th Cir.)