Lawmaker: Healthcare Ruling Is Judicial Activism

Wednesday, 02 Feb 2011 07:42 AM

By Hiram Reisner

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A federal judge’s decision that the Obama administration's healthcare overhaul is unconstitutional is an example of judicial activism, and “way out of bounds, even for Republicans,” Rep Laura Richardson, (pictured) D-Calif., Tuesday told Chris Matthews on MSNBC.

healthcare, ruling, judicial, activismU.S. District Judge Roger Vinson Monday accepted without trial the argument of 26 states that Obamacare violates people's rights. At issue in making his ruling was whether the government is reaching beyond its constitutional power to regulate interstate commerce, by mandating that citizens must buy health insurance or face tax penalties.

The administration believes providing healthcare is part of the interstate commerce system, because all Americans are consumers of medical care. The states’ attorneys counter the federal government is violating the Constitution by forcing a mandate on the states, without providing money to pay for it.

Matthews started the “Hardball” discussion by noting that so far, in judicial rulings on Obamacare’s constitutionality, two federal judges appointed by Democratic presidents upheld the law, while two GOP appointees opposed it.

“So, we have got a partisan split in the court and it looks like the Supreme Court is going to have to decide this just in time – guess what – for next year’s presidential election,” Matthews said. “You know, the American people have a hard time believing we have an independent judiciary, when you have got this even split.”

Richardson said Vinson’s decision goes beyond judicial activism.

“Not only is this judicial activism. It’s overreaching, and it doesn’t even meet the mainstream test,” Richardson said. “Not to follow precedents by Supreme Court law, and not to do a true analysis, to cut out an entire bill based upon one provision, is way out of bounds – even for Republicans.”

Richardson contended the judge’s argument siding with the states is “pretty weak,” and the healthcare system obviously qualifies as commerce.

“All you have to look at is, in 2009 alone, [the] $43 billion it cost many taxpayers to pay for people who hadn’t paid for the insurance themselves. If that’s not what commerce is, I don’t know what you would call it,” she said.

“We have a longstanding history of being able to utilize legislation based upon the Commerce Clause. And this is no exception,” Richardson continued. “Come to my hospitals. We have got hospitals having to care for people because they haven’t done the preventative care themselves.”

Labeling the judge’s decision partisan and conservative, Rep. Jim Moran, D-Va., said the issue of judicial activism will take center stage when, as most expect, the law’s constitutionality eventually lands before the Supreme Court.

“The problem is the Supreme Court. We’ve known since they appointed George Bush over Al Gore, despite the trend of the Florida vote counting, that that at least four members of this Supreme Court are activist, conservative, even partisan,” Moran said.

“You got Judge [Samuel] Alito publicly disputing the president at the State of the Union. Even Judge [John] Roberts has shown himself to be a conservative activist in many of his decisions,” he said. “It’s going to be decided in a court that is divided and the only vote that really matters is Judge [Anthony] Kennedy’s now.”

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