Last Friday, March 26th, the American Association of Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) filed suit against the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration in the U. S. District Court for the District of Columbia. AAPS contends the new federal health care law is unconstitutional. Unlike another suit recently filed by 14 states Attorneys General, the AAPS suit argues that the law violates both the Fifth and the Tenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
While the Tenth Amendment has received a lot of attention lately, you may be reaching for your pocket Constitutions to refresh your recollection of what’s in the Fifth Amendment. It reads in relevant part: “No person shall . . . be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation.”
In a press release, AAPS summarizes its Fifth Amendment argument as follows:
The [federal health reform law] requires most Americans to buy government-approved insurance starting in 2014, or face stiff penalties. Insurance company executives will be enriched by this requirement, but it violates the Fifth Amendment protection against the government forcing one person to pay cash to another. AAPS is the first to assert this important constitutional claim.
This is a novel approach. Only time will tell if it has any traction in the courts.
Also of interest are the remedies AAPS requests in its suit. It argues that the entire law should be invalidated because, if the court finds the individual insurance mandate unconstitutional, the law cannot be funded and is, therefore, entirely unenforceable. But, in addition, AAPS asks the Court to require HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Social Security Commissioner Michael Astrue to provide the court with an accounting of Medicare and Social Security solvency. That request should be as welcome to Secretary Sebelius and Mr. Astrue as the call for auditing the Federal Reserve is to Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke.
Life in these United States just gets more interesting every day.
Go to the AAPS’s website to read the full text of its press release, a set of talking points about health care reform, and the full text of the complaint AAPS recently filed in court.
To see Dr. Rand Paul and others discuss the AAPS suit and the constitutionality of health insurance reform law generally, see the following: