Federal District Court judge Christopher C. Conner further stoked passions over President Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act by ruling Tuesday that a central aspect of the law is unconstitutional.
Conner, a Republican appointee who hears cases in Harrisburg, found that the federal government cannot order U.S. citizens to purchase products against their will. And that is exactly what the law would do. It is arguable whether that is a good idea or not, but it is indisputable that the federal government for the first time in the history of the United States will be telling U.S. citizens that they must buy a product, in this case, health insurance, or pay a financial penalty.
The Obama administration has advanced a number of arguments in support of this policy, most importantly the commerce clause of the Constitution, which gives the government the right to regulate the flow of goods and services between states. The Obama administration says it must compel citizens above a certain income level to purchase insurance in order for the system to work financially.
Yet, Conner opined, the federal government does not have that authority. States, afforded police powers under the constitution, can do that in the way that they can require citizens to purchase auto insurance if they want to own and drive a car.