The Hill reports today, “Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) will file a brief in a Florida court in support of a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the new health reform law. The top Senate Republican will file an ‘amicus curiae’ (‘friend of the court’) brief in the Florida case, and has urged GOP colleagues in the Senate to sign onto the filing, too.
“‘While I strongly believe that we should repeal the law and replace it with the types of commonsense reforms Americans support, I also strongly support the efforts of over twenty States that have challenged this law in the courts,’ McConnell wrote in a dear colleague letter.”
Politico adds, “McConnell argues in his brief . . . that the requirement that nearly all Americans buy insurance ‘dramatically oversteps the bounds of the Commerce [Clause] which has always been understood as a power to regulate, and not to compel, economic activity.’ He also argues that if the mandate is deemed constitutional, there will no longer be any real limit on Congress’ power to regulate citizens’ activity.”
And Human Events notes, “The amicus brief will also argue that accepting the constitutionality of the individual mandate would remove ‘any meaningful limit on Congress’ power to regulate its citizens under the Commerce Clause.’ This clause has already been used as a bear trap to capture any activity that might conceivably involve a transfer of power across state lines, but McConnell argues that forcing individuals to buy health insurance would inflate Congress’ specific power into ‘a general police power, all but eliminating the constitutional distinction between federal and state regulatory authority in our federal union.’”
It’s worth recalling that the individual mandate has consistently been one of the most unpopular provisions of the overwhelmingly unpopular health care law that Democrats pushed through Congress in March. This week, the Kaiser Family Foundation released its November 2010 Health Tracking Poll. Over the past two years, the Kaiser poll has generally shown more support for Democrats’ health care law than other public polling, but in the November Health Tracking Poll, Americans’ displeasure with the individual mandate can be plainly seen. The poll asked respondents, and specifically those who voted in last week’s midterm elections, whether certain aspects of the law should be kept or repealed. When it came to the individual mandate, 68% overall said it should be repealed, and 70% of voters said the same thing. A whopping 88% of those who voted for Republicans want the individual mandate repealed, and even a plurality of those who voted for Democrats, 49%, would like to see the individual mandate repealed (compared to 44% who would prefer lawmakers to keep it in place).
In a letter to his colleagues urging their support for his brief to the court, Sen. McConnell wrote, “Senate Republicans have long expressed grave misgivings about the constitutionality of Public Law 111-148 (2010), otherwise known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (or ‘PPACA’). During last December’s floor debate, Senate Republicans unanimously supported two constitutional points of order lodged against the legislation . . . . As the Supreme Court noted, the Framers of our Constitution conceived of limitations on government ‘to ensure protection of our fundamental liberties.’ By preventing ‘the accumulation of excessive power,’ the Constitution is designed to reduce ‘the risk of tyranny or abuse from either’ state or federal government. Gregory v. Ashcroft, 501 U.S. 452, 458 (1991). The PPACA would remove an important bulwark of this protection. I hope you will join me in arguing to the court . . . why that should not happen.”
(Senate News Briefing)