Health care reform bill in new peril

The Constitution, which sets forth the principle of rule of law, defines what is unconstitutional, and guarantees freedom of speech and other liberties of a Constitutional republic, and also describes the impeachment power. (How many know of the Jewish roots of this document?) Hypocrisy threatens Constitutional government. Could Israel use a constitution like this? More to the point: would a Convention of States save it, or destroy it? (Example: civil asset forfeiture violates the Constitution.) Quick fixes like Regulation Freedom Amendments weaken it. Furthermore: the Constitution provides for removing, and punishing, a judge who commits treason in his rulings. Furthermore, opponents who engage in lawfare against an elected President risk breaking the Constitution.
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

The Supreme Court said that individuals may sue when laws are unconstitutional. The health care reform bill could face 70 new challenges.

What did the Supreme Court say?

In Bond v. United States, the Court ruled last week (June 16) that any citizen may sue the government to say that a law infringes on the reserved powers of the States, and so breaks the Constitution. Lower courts have held that only a State has the right (or standing) to sue the government on that ground. Reserved-power infringement harms a State, not its citizens, or so the theory says. The Court rejected that theory, 9-0. When the federal government passes a law in an area that is the State’s business only, that harms individual liberty. So any person who has lost any liberty under that law may sue to get it back. So said Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the court.

What were the details?

Mrs. Bond, the petitioner, said that the federal government took away some of her liberty by making a federal case out of what should have been a State case. She harassed someone by putting a caustic substance on the other person’s mailbox, car door handle, front doorknob, and so on. That should have been a simple matter for local police and prosecutors. But in 1998, Congress passed this law to obey a United Nations treaty (the Chemical Weapons Convention). The law makes it a federal felony to keep any chemical that could hurt somebody, for any “non-peaceful” reason.

Mrs. Bond moved to dismiss the federal charges, saying that the federal law interfered in State business. The District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania denied the motion. Mrs. Bond went through the trial, and then appealed to the Third Circuit in Philadelphia. The federal government then said that she had no standing to sue on such grounds. By their theory, if Pennsylvania felt that Washington was threatening its sovereignty, then Pennsylvania could sue. But a mere resident of Pennsylvania could not.

Mrs. Bond petitioned for certiorari to the Supreme Court. Then the federal government did a curious thing: they took back everything they had said about her not having standing. They probably wanted the case to go away. That did not happen. The court granted certiorari, and then appointed a “friend of the court” to defend the judgment of the Third Circuit Court.

The Court heard oral argument on February 22. It decided the case today.

What does this mean for the health care reform bill?

Nick Purpura, plaintiff against the health care reform bill

Nicholas E. Purpura, lead plaintiff in a pro se health care reform bill case. Photo: self.

It means that the Supreme Court has set a binding precedent that recognizes that any citizen may petition the courts for relief when the government does something unconstitutional. Like, just possibly, the massive health care reform bill that Congress passed last spring.

Nick Purpura is the lead plaintiff in Purpura v. Sebelius, one of many cases that say that the health care reform bill (HR 3590) is unconstitutional. He told your editor today that this decision could reopen 70 cases that individual citizens have brought against the health care reform bill. Various courts have thrown these cases out, saying that the citizens had no standing. (That is exactly what the New Jersey District Court did in the Purpura case.) Now the Bond case directly contradicts any reasoning that those courts might have used.

Purpura found several reasons to hope that he and his friend Donald R. Laster Jr. will win:

  1. He and Laster, like Mrs. Bond, are ordinary citizens petitioning their government.
  2. The Bond case came from the Third Circuit, the same Circuit where their appeal has gone.
  3. The Supreme Court’s vote was unanimous, and included the two Obama appointees.
  4. Justice Anthony Kennedy, the usual “swing vote,” wrote for the court.
  5. The government was ready to throw away a conviction on a chemical-weapons charge just to avoid a Supreme Court precedent—and they could not avoid it.

Laster, when your editor reached him, said, “Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition!” He then said that the case meant far more than letting them proceed against the health care reform bill. In particular, the Bond case will test whether Congress has any authority to impose on a State’s sovereignty just because the United Nations says it must. He mentioned specifically the proposed United Nations Small Arms Convention that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is trying to negotiate.

Where does the Purpura case stand?

The Justice Department has asked for more time than the 30 days that it would usually have to respond to their appeal. (Purpura and Laster appealed immediately after Judge Freda Wolfson said that they lacked standing.) Their reasons, according to Purpura and Laster, are utterly specious. They say that they have never received any extension of time (untrue), and they need more time to answer several other cases against the health care reform bill that are already on appeal, to the Third and other Circuits.

But today, Purpura and Laster mentioned another problem. A large number of judges on the Third Circuit Court have recused themselves. An unnamed source in the clerk’s office told Purpura and Laster that he could not tell them which three judges would form the first panel to hear the appeal, on account of those recusals. Purpura and Laster have requested in writing that the clerk tell them exactly how many judges have recused themselves, and which ones.

The Purpura case has a specific count (Count 15) saying that the health care reform bill impinges on State reserved powers. But the language of Bond gives a person standing on any ground that involves his liberty:

In arguing that the Government has acted in excess of the authority that federalism defines, [petitioner] seeks to vindicate her own constitutional interests.

Likewise, Purpura and Laster seek to vindicate their constitutional interests. They have identified fifteen interests that the health care reform bill threatens. The Bond decision would seem to vindicate their right to sue to protect all of them. Any one of the fifteen counts could sink the health care reform bill. And this is just one case among more than 70.

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

Editor-in-chief at | + posts

Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.

7 Responses to Health care reform bill in new peril

  1. Camille says:

    I’m not in the least bit qualified to evaluate the legal merits of this, but I will comment on the question of states’ rights.
    It seems to me that most of the time I hear “states’ rights” it’s to justify something terrible. In this particular case, it’s a woman using dangerous chemicals to attack people.
    In the past, “states’ rights” have been used to maintain the practice of slavery, and has been used to justify segregation and Jim Crow laws.
    It isn’t that I’m fundamentally opposed to federalism (in this context, delegation to lesser, lower powers by a central authority). It’s just that I believe there to be a universal right and wrong, and that bodies such as the federal government or even the UN are necessary to enforce this standard of morality. The more power you give to the states, the more likely the states are of doing immoral things (case in point, the Jim Crow laws). Granted, there is always the threat of a strong central power becoming corrupt, but we do have such an institution as democracy. We can always replace corrupt regimes. Also, we have constitutions to guarantee that some things will NEVER be taken from us. The bill of rights is a good example of this, though it wasn’t fully actualized until the fourteenth amendment.
    When it comes down to things such as zoning, I think it’s entirely appropriate for the locals to manage that themselves. Local government has its place, but the federal government exists to make sure it doesn’t persecute its citizens.

    • Joseph says:

      The federal government and the U.N. have the right to enforce morality? Are you serious? I’d wager you are one of the ones who would complain about conservatives “enforcing morality”, no? The U.N., no matter what the issue, has no right or business to tell the U.S. what to do as the U.S. is a sovereign nation. As for the federal government, the founders never intended to have an overly strong federal government. That is why there was no one state. There was a collection of states that obey a central, binding document (the Constitution). Even citing the constitution as some sort of magical shield to protect people is absurd. It is a document and its only real power is what people say it has. This is especially true if the courts have the power to intepret it. So what good does the constitution do when the Supreme Court can simply say that “the constitution means this” or “when it says this freedom, it actually means with certain exceptions”? Don’t believe me? Just look at the second amendment. It clearly says the right to own and bear arms shall not be infringed, yet look at all the gun control laws. That is but one example. Your reasons against states’ freedom could not be more absurd either. You provide only two negative examples, one of which is not true as slavery was almost dead in the South by the time of the civil war. A war in which statists slaughtered and raped many innocents. You also neglect to mention that slavery continued well on after that in the form of factory towns in the North. Corrupt regimes can not be so easily thrown off as you seem to suggest. Massive amounts of bloodshed and suffering are required for even small revolutions. At the rate of disarmament of civilians that the U.N. and federal government have been pushing, no matter how corrupt they get, they will be impossible to topple. Even if the woman used dangerous chemicals, it was certainly not any of the federal government’s business to get involved. That was a local or state crime. It should have been handled there. To say that the way someone harmed somebody else requires such action is absurd. You cited a couple of negative examples to justify your statist ideology, but do not mention all the tyranny they commit. After all, what has the empires of bureucrats done for personal freedom? It has taken the rights away from individuals, bled them near to death with taxation and used that money to continue to their own bloated, parasitic existence. Nothing good comes from large empires. The founders understood this, which is why they created this system. Individuals states can change much easier and quicker than an empire. It is the absolute best system to safeguard individual liberties. This system was in place long before you and your zealots tried to usurp this nation. I hope you reconsider such a misinformed position, but know that true Americans will not allow their freedoms to be taken away by statists as long as they draw breath.

  2. Donald R Laster Jr says:

    The first thing people have to remember is that we are not a Democracy. We are a Representative Republic. It is important for people to understand the difference. Democracies over time tend to be mobocracies that invade the rights and privileges of the minorities and majorities.

    It is important to understand the significance of the Bond ruling – it re-enforces our Amendment 1 rights to petition the Government for redress of grievances. It is also important to remember that the Federal Government did not create the States. The States created the Federal Government. And the States only gave certain authority and power to the Federal Government. This is why it is important to understand the U.S. Constitution is a contract that was created by 13 sovereign Nations. As France, Britain and Russia are sovereign Nations so are the States that comprises the United States. When a State or the Federal Government violates the contract the Federal Courts have jurisdiction and are supposed to fix the problem.

    Bond starts to put a simple criminal matter back where it belongs – in the Courts of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Bond should never have been charged with a federal crime. What she did was a state criminal offense and she was prosecuted in State Court. In fact, the Federal Prosecution was a Amendment 5 violation since she had been tried and convicted in State Court for the same act she was being tried for in the Federal Court.

  3. […] Health care reform bill in new peril – Conservative News and Views When the federal government passes a law in an area that is the State's business only, that harms individual liberty. So any person who has lost any liberty under that law may sue to get it back. … Read More… […]

  4. […] Plaintiffs have standing after all […]

  5. […] Health care reform bill in new peril […]

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.