The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) announced Friday that they would join 20 states suing to have the recently passed health-care law ruled unconstitutional. The NFIB calls itself the “nation’s leading small business advocacy organization” and says that it is joining the lawsuit because the “outpouring of opposition to this new law was overwhelming and our members urged us to do everything in our power to stop this unconstitutional law.”
Specifically, the organization is suing over the ‘individual mandate,” claiming that the law does not fall within the bounds of the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution and violates the Fifth Amendment by depriving their members of liberty and property without due process of law.
Regardless of whether those arguments sway federal judges hearing the case, NFIB’S involvement ensures the point will be heard extensively during the fall political campaigns. With 350,000 members, the group boasts a far-reaching network of local activists. The lawsuit has a political overlay, since all but one of the state officials who filed the Florida case are Republicans. Some are running for higher office.
The Obama administration argues that the ‘individual mandate’ rests on a solid constitutional foundation: the power of Congress to regulate interstate commerce.
But critics say that does not give government the right to direct individuals to purchase a specific good or service.
The new law allows government “to regulate you just because you exist,” said Dan Danner, president and CEO of the NFIB. “If you can regulate this, where do you stop? Do you tell people, ‘We are going to mandate that everybody exercise?”
Legal scholars are divided over prospects for the case. Many — but not all — expect the administration to prevail.
Timothy Jost, a professor at Washington and Lee University law school in Virginia, said, “These are not really legal cases — they are political statements.”