Health care reform bill – more motions

Obamacare brought two circuits to a crossroads of the Constitution
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Two New Jersey activists have filed another motion-for-default in their 15-count lawsuit against the health care reform bill.

Nicholas E. Purpura and Donald R. Laster Jr filed a Motion for Entry of Default yesterday, for the court to consider on Monday morning. The motion says that the US government has never answered six of the fifteen counts they have against the health care reform bill. The District Court did not grant them relief, so now they say that the Third Circuit must.

The District Court for New Jersey dismissed their complaint, after long delays, after accepting the defense argument that they lacked standing. That issue is on appeal to the Third Circuit. Thus far the government has made no answer to the Third Circuit except to ask for (and receive) an extension of time. They got the extension by saying, in essence, that they were too busy. Specifically, they were too busy defending the health care reform bill in four other cases.

A pro se lawsuit against the health care reform bill

Donald R. Laster Jr., plaintiff against the health care reform bill

Donald R. Laster Jr, another plaintiff against the health care reform bill. Photo: self

Purpura and Laster are acting in pro se, that is, without benefit of a lawyer. Purpura has told your editor why he and Laster won’t have a lawyer. At best, lawyers get in the way. In fact, judges can cut off lawyers in open court, but cannot always cut off pro se plaintiffs. At worst, lawyers, as “officers of the court,” often feel obliged to protect the interests of the court apart from, above, and against their clients. Purpura and Laster see the health care reform bill as a prize example, and a culmination, of government corruption. Naturally they want to act against that corruption with as much freedom as they can keep.

Their lawsuit, Purpura v. Sebelius, says that the health care reform bill is unconstitutional, for fifteen reasons:

  1. The health care reform bill started in the Senate, not the House. (I.7.1).
  2. It improperly extends the Commerce Clause (I.8.3).
  3. The health care reform bill raises and supports what would be an eighth uniformed service, under a four-year appropriation (I.8.12).
  4. The bill lays a non-apportioned capitation tax (I.9.4).
  5. It lays a tax on selected State exports, i.e. medical devices (I.9.5).
  6. Obama is not a natural-born citizen (not to be confused with a “citizen at birth”), because his father was an alien (II.1.5).
  7. The health care reform bill double-taxes income, or taxes nonexistent income (Amendment XVI).
  8. The bill makes patient records subject to warrantless search and seizure (Amendment IV).
  9. It deprives people of property without due process of law (Amendment V), and makes involuntary servants of them (Amendment XIII), through the “individual mandate.”
  10. It directs States to take property without due process of law and to deny their citizens and lawful residents the equal protection of the laws (Amendment XIV).
  11. It establishes certain religions as favored by granting selective religious exemptions (Amendment I).
  12. It tries to limit judicial review of some of its key provisions (Article III).
  13. It discriminates among races, through some grant programs and through taxes on activities that only certain races would pursue (Amendment XIV; Title VII) (The defense has often mocked Purpura and Laster on this point, but are strangely silent on it today. Several tanning salons have closed their doors recently on account of this tax.)
  14. It implicates Congress in an act that violates their oath to support the Constitution (Art. VI).
  15. The federal government arrogates to itself certain unenumerated powers, thus infringing upon reserved powers (Amendment X).

The “answers” of the defense

The defense delayed answering these counts until it was far too late. Then they did answer—to nine of the fifteen counts. Specifically, they answered Counts 1, 2, 3, 4, 8, 9, 10, 11, and 15. They never answered the other six counts. These included the natural-born citizen count and the clear attempt to limit judicial review.

The essence of the government’s “answer” was that Purpura and Laster lacked standing to sue. To have standing, a plaintiff needs to show that the defendant has done something to hurt him. The government essentially said that having to spend extra money to buy health insurance doesn’t hurt you. The problem: when the government forces you to do a thing, it hurts you. It takes your liberty from you. The Supreme Court said so last month, in Bond v. United States. (It took that case from the Third Circuit, ironically enough.)

Nevertheless, the District Court in New Jersey accepted the government’s argument and dismissed the case for lack of standing. Purpura and Laster appealed almost at once.

The appeal

Since Purpura and Laster filed their appeal, the defendants/appellees and the court have stalled. The defense’ first filing in the Third Circuit was for an extension of time. They listed four other cases related to the health care reform bill that they were working on. In short, they were too busy. But the Local Appellate Rules for the Third Circuit say that “we’re too busy” is not just cause for an extension of time. Nevertheless, Chief Clerk Marcia Waldron granted a thirty-day extension—sixteen days longer than the rules allow.

The plaintiffs filed a motion to vacate the extension. Then, when the original deadline for a response brief passed, they filed a motion for a default judgment. Four days later they filed a motion to recuse two of the judges on the Third Circuit court, who owed their appointments to Obama. If the courts uphold Count Six, those two judges suddenly will not be judges anymore. (This last is ironic for another reason. One of Waldron’s deputies told Purpura and Laster that several judges, whom she refused to name, recused themselves almost at once after the appeal reached the court.)

The court has said nothing in reply to either motion. So Purpura and Laster filed another entry-of-default motion yesterday.

Message to supporters

The Jersey Shore Tea Party maintains an e-mail list of supporters who want to keep up with their lawsuit against the health care reform bill. This afternoon, Laster sent a message to the subscribers, to explain what he and Purpura were doing. He reviewed the issue of the appeal: whether they have standing. He mentioned a ruling by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals: though that court upheld the government’s position, it also said that the appellants had standing.

Then he named four other problems that he wanted supporters to talk about ahead of the rest:

When discussing the health care reform bill point out a couple of significant items such as:

  • Eliminates Amendment 4 protections – your private medical records can be seized at any time without your permission or search warrant. In order words – real warrantless searches.
  • Eliminates Amendment 5 protections – your property (i.e. money) can be seized without any trial. This is to insure you have insurance and the money can be taken without a trial.
  • Eliminates Amendment 13 protections – the individual mandate is actually involuntary servitude. You are being forced to purchase a product so a benefit can be supplied to someone else. This is also specific welfare which was ruled invalid in the Supreme Court ruling “Butler v United States”.
  • Eliminates Amendment 14 protections – the law does not apply equally to everyone.

Laster’s point: if the government could violate the Constitution with impunity in these areas, it could violate it in other areas and become dictatorial.

Meanwhile, more parts of the health care reform bill are going into effect now. So even the specious arguments that the government has offered against the standing of Purpura and Laster to sue will become moot.

Featured image: the Constitution of the United States. Photo: National Archives.

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