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Health Care bill into law

n the very day that President Obama signed the 2010 Health Care bill into law, the attorney general of Virginia filed a lawsuit in federal district court arguing that parts of the statute were unconstitutional. Specifically, the attorney general argued that the new statute was unconstitutional because it required people to buy health insurance, which amounts to an unconstitutional extension of the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution. The federal government argued that the Supreme Court has upheld federal laws regulating commercial activity even when that activity takes place solely within a single state, if the activity has an effect on interstate commerce. Clearly the failure to purchase health insualrance affects interstate commerce because, when one person does not purchase health insurance, the cost of treating that person will fall on the rest of society in one way or another. The Virginia attorney general disagreed, arguing that the cases that have upheld this principle have always involved commercial activities already taking place. They have never approved a mandate that forces someone to begin an activity that they would not have entered (in this case buying health insurance) absent the federal mandate. Therefore, the attorney general concluded, the health care law is unconstitutional. Should the statute be upheld or overturned given these arguments? Explain. (See Kevin Sacks, “Lying Ahead for Health Law, Years of Constitutional Wrangling,” The New York Times, December 14, 2010, p. A22; See also: Kevin Sack, “Core of Health Care Law,” The New York Times, December 14, 2010, pp. A1 and A22.)

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