Last night a Federal Court in America ruled in favour of the Dominion of Virginia which had sought a ruling that the ‘individual mandate’ in Obama’s health care law is unconstitutional.
This is the provision that says that every citizen of the United States has to buy health insurance. The mandate is supposed to keep premiums down by widening the risk pool, which theoretically offsets the increased costs to insurers of covering pre-existing conditions.
The rub is that the US Congress is not sovereign – the constitution is. The constitution only allows Congress the power to make laws in specific areas. Everything else is left to the 50 states individually.
Nevertheless, when passing an iffy law. congress usually cites the commerce clause – which enables it to regulate interstate commerce as the article giving it the power to pretty much do whatever it wants.
The judge, however, has rejected that the power to regulate interstate commerce includes the power to compel individuals to buy particular insurance.
Interesting point – big laws usually contain a severence clause. In the haste to pass this law, however, the drafter forgot to add this in. Under Supreme Court precedent, this means that the entire health care law is susceptible to being struck out.