…well, the court didn’t decide anything.
The United States Circuit Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit issued two long awaited opinions today on Obamacare. Neither decision addressed the constitutionality of Obamacare, although both cases clearly raised the constitutionality of the “individual mandate”. Here is what happened.
In Virginia v. Sebelius, (see page 17) the court held that the State of Virginia “lacked standing” to sue. That phrase is fancy legal terminology that means, someone else may have the right to contest this, but not you, State of Virginia. Basically, the court held that Virginia could not bring this law suit on behalf of it’s citizens, each citizen of Virginia had to bring his or her own lawsuit.
This decision will definitely help alleviate the enormous back log of cases in the federal courts.
And then, we had the decision in Liberty University v. Geithner. This decision may be even more strange than the Virginia case. To understand it you first need to know that, under federal law, a “tax” and a “penalty” are two different “animals”. A citizen can challenge a penalty before it takes effect. That same citizen can only challenge a tax after it takes effect.
Under Obamacare, you only owe the government money for not having “approved insurance” after January 1, 2014. So, if the money you owe is a penalty, you can sue now. But if it is a tax, you must wait until January, 2014.
The court in Liberty (at page 7) tells us that the money you owe for failure to have government approved insurance is a tax. This finding is in spite of the fact that the law calls it a penalty, earlier versions of Obamacare called it a “tax”, and that word was purposely deleted in the final version and replaced with the word “penalty”, and, the President told us repeatedly that it was not a tax. Forgetting that for the moment, all other courts to consider this issue have held that it is a penalty, not a tax.
Basically, the Fourth Circuit punted on all relevant issues.
As you know by now, I believe Obamacare is not only unconstitutional, but also a fiscal disaster for this country’s future. However, I would have preferred a decision explaining why Obamacare is constitutional, then what we got from the Fourth Circuit.
And, I would have expected better from a Federal Circuit Court of Appeals, than what we received…kicking the can down the road.