A federal judge has decided that the requirement for all American’s to purchase health insurance, (or pay a fine), does not violate religious freedom. The judge has dismissed the lawsuit, and says that the Supreme Court will need to settle the constitutional issues. Add this to the list of court cases that were filed in response to the controversial mandatory insurance requirement.
This lawsuit was filed by the American Center For Law and Justice, which is a Christian group, founded by evangelist Pat Robertson. The group filed the lawsuit on the behalf of a small group of five American citizens.
Three of the plaintiffs were involved in the lawsuit because they feel that the requirement for all Americans to purchase health insurance violated their religious freedom. Margaret Peggy Lee Mead, Charles Edward Lee, and Susan Seven-Sky feel that buying health insurance would indicate that they needed “a backup plan”, implying that they were unsure about if God would provide. Those plaintiffs have stated that they want to refuse all medical services for the rest of their lives.
Two other plaintiffs, Kenneth Ruffo, and Gina Rodriguez, are using a holistic approach to medical care. They do not wish to purchase heath insurance because it doesn’t cover the type of medical care that they are seeking. Both groups of plaintiffs can afford to buy health insurance, but are making the choice not to do so. The opposing side of this court case is the Justice Department.
U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler has dismissed this lawsuit. She has decided that Congress does have the right to regulate health care spending under the Commerce Clause. She also said that the law requiring all Americans to buy health insurance cannot be looked at on it’s own, but rather as an essential part of the Affordable Care Act.
Judge Kessler also said that anyone who felt that purchasing health care would violate their religious beliefs can choose to pay the fine instead of purchasing the health insurance. Judge Kessler also had doubts that a person can realistically decide, while they are healthy, that they will forever choose to forgo all medical care, especially if that person become seriously ill or injured.
There have been so many lawsuits in regards to this controversial part of the Affordable Care Act that it is difficult to keep track of them all. Judge Kessler’s decision can be added to the decisions of Judge George Steeh and Judge Norman Moon for a total of three judges who have dismissed these kinds of lawsuits. Judge Henry Hudson and Judge Roger Vinson have each ruled that the mandatory health insurance requirement was unconstitutional, for a total of two on that side.
Image by Sam Howzit on Flickr