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States' lawsuit challenging federal health-care law can proceed

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The lawsuit filed by 20 states, including Indiana, challenging the constitutionality of the new federal health-care law can go forward on two counts, a Florida federal judge ruled Thursday.

In a 65-page order, U.S. District Senior Judge Roger Vinson of the Northern District of Florida, Pensacola Division, denied the U.S. Department of Justice’s motion to dismiss regarding two claims: that the individual mandate and concomitant penalty exceed Congress’ authority under the Commerce Clause and violate the Ninth and 10th amendments; and the act coerces the states with respect to Medicaid by altering and expanding the program in violation of the Constitution.

A hearing on the surviving claims is scheduled for Dec. 16.

The judge dismissed the other four claims raised by the states, including that the employer mandate interferes with states’ sovereignty.

“In this order, I have not attempted to determine whether the line between Constitutional and extraconstitutional government has been crossed. That will be decided on the basis of the parties’ expected motions for summary judgment, when I will have the benefit of additional argument and all evidence in the record that may bear on the outstanding issues,” wrote Judge Vinson. “I am only saying that (with respect to two of the particular causes of action discussed above) the plaintiffs have at least stated a plausible claim that the line has been crossed.”

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller said in a statement he’s pleased the two most important elements of the suit survived and the states hope the United States Supreme Court will take the case to rule on the issues.

“I recognize that due to the recession, many of our fellow Hoosiers struggle without health insurance. But as I have traveled our state, many Hoosiers also have told me this overreaching new federal law tramples on their ‘God-given right to be left alone,’ and they wanted my office to challenge the law in court. I am pleased that the legal work we performed on this challenge was all within our existing office budget approved in 2009, and that we have spent no additional dollars on legal fees or other costs to participate in this case,” he said.

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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