Petition Filed with U.S. Supreme Court to Challenge PPACA’s Individual Mandate

A group of Michigan citizens, along with a public interest law firm, that last year filed the first federal action challenging the constitutionality of PPACA’s individual mandate are now trying to become the first to obtain the right to argue their case before the United States Supreme Court following a federal appellate court decision.

As we previously reported, on June 29, 2011, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that PPACA’s individual mandate is, on its face, constitutional.  In its split 2-1 decision, the Sixth Circuit ruled that PPACA’s provision requiring every citizen to purchase health insurance has a cognizable impact on interstate commerce and thus falls within the Constitution’s Commerce Clause and the federal government’s regulatory powers.  The plaintiffs, represented by Ann Arbor, Michigan’s Thomas More Law Center, disagree.  In their papers requesting the Supreme Court’s involvement, the plaintiffs assert that if PPACA “is understood to fall within Congress’s Commerce Clause authority, the federal government will have absolute and unfettered power to create complex regulatory schemes to fix every perceived problem imaginable and to do so by ordering private citizens to engage in affirmative acts, under penalty of law.”  The plaintiffs’ argument echoes Sixth Circuit Judge James Graham’s argument put forth in his dissent.  Judge Graham maintained that if the individual mandate is upheld as constitutional, “it is difficult to see what the limits on Congress’ authority . . . would be.  What aspect of human activity would escape federal power?”

The plaintiffs are not the first group challenging PPACA to seek Supreme Court involvement.  In April, the Supreme Court denied the State of Virginia’s petition seeking review. In that matter, however, Virginia chose to seek the high court’s involvement prior to its case being heard by a federal appellate court – a procedural decision unusual enough that few were surprised when the Supreme Court denied Virginia’s request.  Here, and in contrast, a federal appellate decision has already been rendered.

The government’s response to the Supreme Court is due August 27, 2011.

This post was contributed by Aaron Mensh.