nos-trum. pronunciation: \nos'-trum\. noun. Etymology: Latin, neuter of noster our, ours.
1. a medicine of secret composition recommended by its preparer but usually without scientific proof of its effectiveness.
2. a usually questionable remedy or scheme.
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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Judge Rules Health Care Reform Unconstitutional In Its Entirety

What's shocking to a simple medic like me is how a single word in the legal system can have titanic implications.

The verdict wasn't unexpected, although some were shocked that the judge ruled the whole thing unconstitutional.  I've discussed that before:  Congress was too stupid to put in a sentence that said, "If one part doesn't survive, the rest can go forward."

Here's the shocking part.   The government claims that Congress can regulate interstate commerce under the Constitution.  And they can.  The courts have given great latitude, calling almost anything "interstate commerce."  For instance, if you plant tomato seeds from your last year's garden, you are engaging in "interstate" commerce because the spade you use could have come from somewhere else.  Nuts, huh?

But now, the common sense definition of commerce is under review.  Does the Constitution permit regulation of economic "activity" or economic "decisions?"

One single word.  The former means you have to be buying something before Congress can get involved.  The latter means any decision, even a decision not to engage in commerce is fair game.  This means Congress could regulate your decision to not buy a car, or which car you can or can't buy.

The plaintiffs argued that a decision to not buy health insurance was not commerce, because no commerce activity was involved.

And the judge agreed with the plaintiffs in a 78 page opinion that to an amateur like me, is fairly well written.

Along the way, the judge agreed with all the other judges that the government can't claim the insurance mandate is a tax at this late date, since Congress went out of their way to insist it was a penalty or fee if you didn't buy insurance.  That was just too egregious for any judge to buy.  There were other issues addressed that thrill legal theorists, but you can read them elsewhere.

This is the big 26-state suit.  The government has said they'll appeal.  So on we go to the next step.  The judge didn't issue a stay order, but he might.   The next court could either affirm, or set aside his ruling. 

Let the fun begin.  All unnecessary if we had a Congress that knew what it was doing.

Doc D

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