Monday, August 2, 2010

Update on challenges to individual mandate

The constitutional challenges to the "individual mandate" aspect of the new health insurance reform law (which we discussed below) scored a small victory today:  a district court judge in Virginia denied the government's motion to dismiss Virginia's lawsuit.  Although not a ruling on the merits, this is essentially a holding that the constitutional challenge is non-frivolous.  As the judge put it:
While this case raises a host of complex constitutional issues, all seem to distill to the single question of whether or not Congress has the power to regulate — and tax — an individual’s decision not to participate in interstate commerce. Neither the US Supreme Court nor and federal circuit court of appeals has squarely addressed this issue. No reported case from any federal appellate court has extended the Commerce Clause or Tax Clause to include the regulation of a person’s decision not to purchase a product...
For reactions from the go-to scholars on each side of this issue, see here (Randy Barnett) and here (Jack Balkin).

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