Oral Arguments Presented at Hearing on Federal Health Care Reform Lawsuit
June 9, 2011, 10:00am
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ATLANTA -- Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott today appeared before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, where he represented the State of Texas as the court held oral arguments over the constitutionality of the Obama Administration’s health care law. Texas and 25 other states are asking the appellate court to affirm a lower court’s decision, which ruled that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional.
“The federal health care law violates our Constitution by imposing an unprecedented mandate on individual Americans and requiring states to spend billions of additional dollars on health care programs,” Attorney General Abbott said. “Congress has limited powers and cannot simply force Americans to purchase health insurance. Earlier this year a federal district judge ruled that the federal health care law exceeded Congress’ constitutional authority and ordered that the entire law be struck down -- a ruling that should be upheld by the appellate court.”
Attorney General Abbott added: “In an attempt to justify its unprecedented and unconstitutional overreach, Congress cites its authority to regulate interstate commerce. If there are to be any limitations on the federal government, then ‘commerce’ cannot be twisted to cover every possible human activity -- including mere human existence. The act of doing absolutely nothing does not constitute an act of commerce and our Constitution does not give Congress the authority to force Americans to purchase insurance.”
Last March, Attorney General Abbott and a bipartisan coalition of state officials from across the country challenged the constitutionality of the controversial Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. On Jan. 31, 2011, U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson ruled that the individual mandate violates the U.S. Constitution and issued an order striking down the federal health care law.
Under the health care law, for the first time in the nation’s history, the federal government is attempting to force individual Americans to enter into contracts and purchase services from private companies -- in this case, insurance companies -- or face a penalty. The 26-state coalition is challenging the individual mandate requirement because it exceeds Congress’ authority and violates Americans’ constitutional rights. According to the States’ legal brief, the Act also unconstitutionally forces state governments to spend billions of additional dollars on expanded entitlement programs.
The bipartisan 26-state coalition includes Texas, Florida, South Carolina, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, Louisiana, Washington, Colorado, Michigan, Utah, Alabama, South Dakota, Idaho, Indiana, Mississippi, North Dakota, Arizona, Nevada, Georgia, Alaska, Iowa, Ohio, Kansas, Wyoming, Wisconsin and Maine. The states are joined in this lawsuit by the National Federation of Independent Business, and individual plaintiffs Mary Brown and Kaj Ahlburg.
Attorney General Abbott and 12 other state attorneys general filed their legal challenge to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act shortly after President Barack Obama signed the bill into law. Thirteen additional states later joined the legal action. The States’ legal action specifically challenges the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and names the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services, Treasury and Labor as defendants because those federal agencies are charged with implementing the Act’s constitutionally impermissible provisions.
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