Federal appeals court to hear arguments in multistate case Wednesday
TOPEKA – (June 6, 2011) – As a federal appeals court prepares to hear arguments June 8 in a 26-state lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the federal health care law, Kansas has joined a second legal effort to overturn the statute.
Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt joined with 13 other states to file a brief recently in the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals outlining constitutional objections to the so-called “individual mandate” provision in the health care law. Kansas is not a party to this second lawsuit but is backing the position of the plaintiffs who are challenging the law. The second case is Seven-Sky v. Holder.
Earlier this year, Kansas joined as one of 26 state plaintiffs in a separate federal lawsuit in Florida challenging the law’s constitutionality. The state plaintiffs prevailed in the district court, and that case is now on appeal in the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. Oral arguments are scheduled for June 8 in Atlanta.
“A federal government that can order individual Americans to actively engage in commerce and then regulate their behavior under authority of the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution would be a federal government whose power, scope and reach are truly unlimited,” Schmidt said. “The issue in this litigation is liberty, not health care. Kansas will remain an active participant in efforts to persuade the courts to find enforceable constitutional limits on the scope and reach of the federal government.”
To date, five federal district courts have ruled on the constitutionality of the federal law. Three have upheld it; two have struck it down. Two federal circuit courts of appeals have recently heard oral arguments on challenges to the law but have yet to issue a ruling. Schmidt said he remains hopeful that the issue eventually will reach the U.S. Supreme Court and that the Supreme Court will find limits on the power granted to the federal government by the Commerce Clause.
“Our founders did not intend to create a federal government with an unlimited, general police power,” Schmidt said. “Rather, they intended to create a federal government of limited, enumerated powers with all other powers reserved to the states or to the people. This litigation is testing whether that carefully crafted framework still endures.”