Sessions Comments on Supreme Court Health Care Ruling; Calls for Law's Repeal


Date: June 28, 2012
Location: Washington, DC

U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Ranking Member of the Senate Budget Committee and a senior member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, issued the following statement today in response to the Supreme Court ruling on President Obama's health care law:

"The Court's decision is further proof that the health care bill, from the beginning and in its entirety, is a 2,700-page Rube Goldberg contraption that will never work. Even the fundamental justification for the legislation has been rejected. The Court upheld the law as a tax, not as a mandate. This is directly contrary to the avowed basis for the bill.

In no way can this decision, by the narrowest of margins, be used to bolster the wisdom of this legislation. For the Court to affirm the mandate portion of the law, it was forced to reject the President's and the then-majority Democratic Congress' contention that the mandate was not a tax. Under this ruling, the big spenders have once again succeeded in surreptitiously imposing a tax on the American people while pretending they are not. The problem is that the mandate remains a mandate. It remains a demand that Americans purchase a product they do not wish to purchase. I do not believe the central government possesses such a broad power.

The Court, at least facially, makes clear there are limits to the power of Washington to act under the Commerce Clause. This crucial constitutional principle, as a practical matter, has been in danger for some time.

The decision declares how the courts will rule on the health care law, but it in no way decides whether the law is good for America as a matter of policy. Neither does it absolve Congress from its independent duty to ensure it stays within its constitutional authority. The Chief Executive has the same obligation.

Independent of the constitutional issues, the healthcare law is utterly unaffordable--costing $2.6 trillion over the first full ten-year window. This massive new entitlement program adds $17 trillion in unfunded long-term obligations--more than twice the unfunded obligations of Social Security. It is unthinkable our nation would add this new, colossal debt burden at a time when we are already borrowing forty cents out of every dollar we spend. This 2,700-page health law, if it is not repealed, will be financially devastating to our Republic.

The majority redefines a provision of the law that declares a mandate to be a tax. I am very troubled by this. Scholars will give great thought to what the Court has done and I am afraid it will be concluded that this is a legal sleight of hand rather than a principled decision.

The question has to be asked to what extent all government mandates and demands can just be referred to as a tax, thus unleashing the power of the central government to dictate individual Americans' private, everyday decisions.

It is particularly remarkable that the four most activist members of the Court did not conclude that the mandate violates the Commerce Clause. It would be hard to see any limits on the Commerce Clause if this mandate is not deemed to be outside its bounds.

The task now before the country is to fully repeal this onerous and unworkable law. If it is not repealed, it will cause Americans' personal health costs--and our nation's debt--to rise disastrously. It will massively expand the power and reach of the federal bureaucracy and its intrusion into our lives and livelihoods. This bill is bad for health care, damaging to our economy, and contrary to our free market heritage."