By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
A new lawsuit filed on behalf of five U.S. citizens is charging that the insurance mandate included in the new health care reform bill violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 by forcing them to buy insurance from companies whose tenets violate their religious beliefs.
The suit, filed last week by the prestigious American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) on behalf of five plaintiffs, asserts that the requirement to purchase health insurance, under the threat of significant financial penalties, “substantially burdens the exercise of their religion.”
The suit argues: “They are forced to either join a health insurance system that contradicts the tenets of their faith or pay substantial penalties for following the tenets of their faith.”
The suit asks the court to declare the individual mandate provision unconstitutional, rule that the rights of three of the plaintiffs under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act were violated and issue a permanent injunction prohibiting enforcement of the individual mandate provision.
The suit was filed on behalf of Susan Seven-Sky from New York, Peggy Lee Mead of North Carolina, and three Texas residents: Charles “Eddie” Lee, Kenneth Ruffo and Gina Rodriguez.
Defendants in the suit are U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, along with HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, as well as the U.S. Department of the Treasury and its secretary, Timothy Geithner.
This latest legal challenge adds to the mounting number of lawsuits that have already been filed by more than a dozen states challenging the individual mandate, an assertion that has been included in this latest filing.
“If Congress succeeds in asserting this unprecedented claim of authority, it would set a sweepingly broad standard unsupported by the Constitution that would allow Congress to dictate to individuals that they must, or must not, buy countless other goods or services in the marketplace,” the suit claims. “To interpret the Commerce Clause to afford Congress such vast, all-encompassing authority over the daily lives of Americans would eviscerate the idea of a federal government of limited powers.”
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