[Tallahassee, FL] Florida is taking the lead on the states’ battle to fight the implementation of The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, signed into law by President Obama in 2010. Republican-controlled states like Florida are challenging the U.S. Government’s right to mandate its citizens pay into a pool for health care coverage.
Last week, it was announced that the U.S. Supreme Court would be hearing Florida’s lawsuit, originally brought by former Attorney General Bill McCollum, in march of next year. The Supreme Court date is somewhat earlier than expected.
And with the 2012 election just around the corner, the stakes are high for both the Democrats and Republicans.
The state’s two most powerful politicians – Gov. Rick Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi, both Republicans – wasted no time to comment on the decision by the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) to hear the case and that Florida’s would be getting top billing on the national stage.
“[A week ago] Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court announced their decision to hear the federal health care challenge. I am pleased that they have granted certiorari in the States’ challenge to the federal health care law,” said Bondi. “Throughout this case, we have urged swift judicial resolution because of the unprecedented threat that the individual mandate poses to the liberty of Americans simply because they live in this country.”
“We are hopeful that by June 2012 we will have a decision that protects Americans’ liberties and limits the federal government’s power,” Bondi added. “We look forward to presenting oral argument and defending our position that the individual mandate is unconstitutional, that the entire law fails if one part fails, that the Anti-Injunction Act does not apply, and that Medicaid’s expansion is unlawfully coercive.”
Gov. Scott also released a statement, although he refers to the Affordable Care Act as “ObamaCare,” which is the preferred brand-name among Republicans.
“[The] news that the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments next March in the Florida lawsuit against ObamaCare is a tremendous step in the fight against the job-killing federal mandate,” Scott said. “I look forward to the day we can move past this Big Government mandate and begin making the meaningful, and constitutional, changes that are necessary to improve our health care system.”
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“With this news, I am hopeful that ObamaCare will be repealed by the end of 2012 and we can put a stop to further tax increases, additional job losses, the inability of many Americans to keep their existing health insurance, and the rationing of health care, all of which ObamaCare threatens to do,” added Scott.
The governor also gave credit where credit was due.
“I applaud Attorney General Pam Bondi for leading the effort to protect Floridians’ freedom to make their own healthcare choices and I am also grateful that former Attorney General Bill McCollum had the foresight to initiate this lawsuit,” he said.
Republicans are probably feeling pretty good about their chances, although they lost the bigger battles in the lower level courts. Across the country there were 20 court challenges to the health care reform package. Most of those focused on the individual mandate for all Americans to buy insurance or face some sort of minor penalty.
Florida says it is unconstitutional for Congress to mandate that citizens buy anything. A hundred years or more of precedent says that the Constitution gives broad powers to Congress to federally regulate society and enforce fees in all matters of commerce and national interest.
The federal government will argue that the Affordable Care Act is in the national interest, and that Congress has the power to pass laws governing commerce under the Constitution, and that the Supreme Court has upheld that right on numerous occasions.
Florida’s ace(s) in the hole? Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas. The pair was reported by the L.A. Times to have dined with the legal team challenging the bill, stirring up an ethics debate and leaving Democrats already crying foul.
By: Mark Christopher/Sunshine Slate
Image: Mark Christopher/Sunshine Slate Images Resource: The New York Times