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Health care reform bill – two cases



Supreme Court, battleground of the Constitution, rules for Hobby Lobby. But is Neil Gorsuch a good candidate to sit here?

The Supreme Court will hear the most famous case against the health care reform bill. But a more comprehensive case still waits for a hearing in any court.

The health care reform bill and the Supreme Court

On November 10, the Supreme Court devoted its end-of-the-week administrative meeting to looking at several cases that have reached it from various judicial circuits. The one they picked for review was Florida ex rel. Bondi et al. v. HHS et al. (docket no. 3:10-cv-00091-RV-EMT). The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals held that the “minimal coverage mandate” in the health care reform bill was unconstitutional. But they reversed Judge Roger Vinson’s earlier ruling that the entire bill was unconstitutional. Judge Vinson (of Florida’s Northern District) found the bill “unseverable” because it had no “severability clause.” The Eleventh Circuit decided that any bill was automatically severable.

The Supreme Court has scheduled five and a half hours (a full working day) of oral argument on four main issues:

  1. Whether the twenty-six States and individual and organizational co-plaintiffs have standing to sue. To show standing, a plaintiff must show an actual or imminent injury-in-fact, of which the law was a direct cause, and about which the court could do something.
  2. Whether the minimal coverage mandate is constitutional or not.
  3. Whether that clause is severable or un-severable from the rest of the bill.
  4. Whether the law breaks the Tenth Amendment by forcing the States to enforce it.

The Court will decide the case at the end of June, shortly before the expected date of the Republican National Convention.

Former New York Lieutenant Governor Betsy McCaughey predicted today that the court would ultimately find the health care reform bill unconstitutional. She told that she expected a five-to-four decision to affirm the Eleventh Circuit. Tellingly, she said that the Court would find the bill severable, so that the unchallenged part of the law would stay in force. That, she said, would be bad public policy, because it would cost too much.

A forgotten case

Nick Purpura talks about his lawsuit against the health care reform bill.

Nicholas E. Purpura. Photo: self.

The plaintiffs in another, more comprehensive case, could have guessed what ex-Lt. Gov. McCaughey just said. Nicholas E. Purpura and Donald R. Laster Jr did not rely on severability in their own lawsuit against the health care reform bill. In their case (Purpura v. Sebelius, Supreme Court Docket No. 11-7275), they point to nineteen separate places where the health care reform bill breaks the Constitution and several key statutes. These statutes include the Posse Comitatus Act and current federal antitrust law.

Nick Purpura, in an interview in, castigated the Supreme Court for seemingly overlooking his case. True, the Court accepted his petition for certiorari, assigned the case a docket number, and gave the government until December 9 of this year to respond. But Purpura is not satisfied. He pointed out that his case is the most comprehensive challenge that anyone has filed. He addresses many issues that no one else addresses. They include:

  • Raising and supporting of a “Ready Reserve Corps,” essentially another army, with a four-year appropriation.
  • Deploying that army for civilian law enforcement (said law being the health care reform bill) in violation of the Posse Comitatus Act
  • Subjecting patients’ medical records to unwarranted search and seizure at the word of an HHS inspector-general.
  • Preferential treatment of certain religious “sects and divisions” who hold that having health insurance breaks their faith. (That’s a problem left over from the Social Security Act, as amended.)
  • Anti-trust violations.
  • Taxes on exports of different States.

In addition, the case points out that:

  • The health care reform bill came out of the Senate, not the House of Representatives. That is unconstitutional because this bill raises revenues.
  • Barack H. Obama was never authorized to sign the bill into law. His father was a British colonial subject when he was born. That makes him not a natural-born citizen.
  • The bill deprives people of property without due process of law, and forces the States to do the same.

Purpura was glad enough to get his certiorari petition into the Supreme Court system. But he told CNAV that he wants the Court to decide sua sponte (that is to say, on its own) to take the case over at once and make it the lead case.

Featured: the United States Supreme Court, in the background behind a crowd of March for Life participants, January, 2011. Photo: CNAV.


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Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.

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