U.S. District Judge, George Streeh, of the Eastern District of Michigan ruled that Congress does have the authority to enact a key part of President Obama’s healthcare law reform, requiring US citizens to obtain coverage by 2014. The day Obama signed it into law, the Thomas More Law Center had filed a lawsuit arguing that it was an unconstitutional tax outside Congress authority. The latest ruling said that under the Commerce Clause of the American Constitution a penalty could be imposed on those who did not get insurance coverage.

Judge George Steeh wrote:

The minimum coverage provision, which addresses economic decisions regarding health care services that everyone eventually, and inevitably, will need, is a reasonable means of effectuating Congress’s goal

The District Judge did not issue an injunction that the Thomas More Law Center were seeking, he also dismissed two of the Center’s six claims. The other four claims have not been decided upon yet.

The Thomas More Law Center also argued that funding abortions with public money was a violation of constitutional rights.

Justice Department spokesperson, Tracy Schmaler said:

This ruling marks the first time a court has considered the merits of any challenge to this law and we welcome the court’s decision upholding the healthcare reform statute as constitutional.

The Thomas More Law Center wrote in a communiqué:

Detroit Federal District Judge George Caram Steeh this afternoon ruled that the Thomas More Law Center and the four Michigan plaintiffs it represented had standing to challenge the Health Care Reform Act and that the challenge was ripe for review.

Robert Muise, senior trial counsel representing the Thomas More Law Center said he believes his client has a very strong argument on appeal.

Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel of the Thomas More Law Center Said:

Obama Care is one of the most oppressive measures in the history of our Nation. And it was passed by Congress despite overwhelming opposition of the American people. It was not about reforming health care, but government seizure of unprecedented power over our lives. It transfers control of one-sixth of our Nation’s economy to Washington bureaucrats, and it will add an estimated 16,000 to 20,000 additional IRS agents to monitor tax returns and records to determine compliance with the new regulations. We will continue to challenge it in the courts.

Steeh is the first U.S. judge to rule on a lawsuit which claims that Congress went beyond its authority by imposing the requirements for mandatory health care coverage by 2014. The Affordable Care Act was passed in March.

Across the USA, several lawsuits have been filed to halt the health care reforms. Most of them argue that a federal government does not have the right to force individuals to buy a product just because they are American citizens. The US government argues that interstate commerce has been regulated by Congress for hundreds of years.

The Thomas More Law Center argued that a person’s decision not to purchase health insurance is a form of inactivity rather than economic activity, and that it is not covered by the clause of the U.S. Constitution that gives Congress the power to regulate interstate commerce.

By choosing not to purchase insurance, an individual is making an economic decision to try to pay for health care services later, out of pocket, rather than now by buying insurance coverage, Judge Steeh found, “collectively shifting billions of dollars onto other market participants.” Consequently, Steeh says he ruled that regulating this decision is not beyond Congress’ authority.

Written by Christian Nordqvist