The US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] on Tuesday filed its first response [brief text] to one of several lawsuits challenging the controversial new health care reform law [text; JURIST news archive]. In a brief filed in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan [official website], the DOJ defended the law, asserting that Congress acted within its powers to regulate interstate commerce. The suit [complaint, PDF], filed in March by conservative public interest group the Thomas More Law Center [advocacy website] on the same day President Barack Obama signed the bill into law [JURIST report], argues that the mandate that all individuals carry health insurance is unconstitutional. The DOJ responded:
Congress determined that the health care system in the United States is in crisis, spawning public expense and private tragedy. After decades of failed attempts, Congress enacted comprehensive health care reform to deal with this overwhelming national problem. The minimum coverage provision is vital to that comprehensive scheme. Enjoining it would thwart this reform and reignite the crisis that the elected branches of government acted to forestall.The Thomas More Law Center is seeking an injunction against the individual mandate, which takes effect in 2014.
The Obama administration is also facing health care lawsuits in Virginia and Florida, filed by numerous state attorneys general. Last month, Georgia joined 18 other states [JURIST report] in a lawsuit [complaint, PDF] filed [JURIST report] in the US District Court for the Northern District of Florida [official website]. The 18 other states involved in the suit are Florida, Texas, South Carolina, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, Louisiana, Washington, Colorado, Michigan, Utah, Alabama, South Dakota, Idaho, Indiana, North Dakota, Mississippi, Nevada, and Arizona. Seven more states are set to join the lawsuit [WP report] Friday. Meanwhile, Virginia has filed a separate lawsuit after that state's legislature passed a bill barring mandatory individual health coverage [JURIST report].