NASHVILLE — Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Mae Beavers (R-Mt. Juliet) today applauded Florida Federal District Court Judge Roger Vinson’s ruling that it was unconstitutional for Congress to enact a health care law that requires Americans to obtain commercial insurance.
Beavers is sponsor of the “Tennessee Health Freedom Act” to protect a citizen’s right to participate, or not participate, in any healthcare system, and that would prohibit the federal government from imposing fines or penalties on that person’s decision.
“Judge Vinson has appropriately followed the U.S. Constitution and ruled the federal healthcare plan as unconstitutional,” said Senator Beavers. “He very accurately pointed out in his ruling that ‘Congress had exceeded the bounds of its authority in passing the Act.’ It is time Tennessee join other states in their efforts to fight this major overstep of constitutional authority. I will begin a push for passage of legislation to accomplish this upon the General Assembly’s return to Nashville next week.”
In his ruling, Judge Vinson said, “it would be a radical departure from existing case law to hold that Congress can regulate inactivity under the Commerce Clause. If Congress has such power,” he continued, “it is not hyperbolizing to suggest that Congress could do almost anything it wanted.”
The Florida suit was filed by governors and attorneys general from 26 states. In December, Federal Court Judge Henry Hudson in Richmond, Virginia also ruled the health care law was not valid. The law will remain in place, under both court rulings, pending appeals.
Beavers has also sponsored legislation this year calling for Tennessee to join an interstate compact with the express purpose of returning the responsibility and authority for regulating health care to the states. The Health Care Compact provides a legal framework in which states can create their own healthcare systems.
“We cannot allow Congress to trample on states’ rights and the personal liberties guaranteed by our federal Constitution,” added Beavers. “We must push back on this unprecedented abuse of power or there will be no limits on federal authority in the future.”
The decision by Vinson will now head to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, Georgia, while the Richmond, Virginia case is set for oral arguments in the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in May.