Lawyers for Michigan challengers to the new federal health care law, seeking to head off the scuttling of their case in the Sixth Circuit Court, insisted Monday night that the four individuals involved are operating on tight budgets and thus are feeling pressure to get ready to obey the law’s mandate that they buy health insurance.   In a response to the federal government’s motion to dismiss the case as moot, the attorneys at the Thomas More Law Center said their clients clearly have a right to go on with their case — scheduled for oral argument Wednesday.

Four individuals filed the Michigan challenge, and government lawyers earlier had conceded that one of them did have “standing” to pursue the case in court.  But, in the dismissal motion filed Friday, the government said that that person has health insurance, so she would not be affected by the insurance-purchase mandate.  It also argued that none of the other three individuals has shown a sufficient impact on them to justify their being in court.

Ordered by the Circuit Court to respond, the challengers contended that the case remains very much a live controversy, because each of the four individuals has started to rearrange their financial affairs in order to be able to comply with the command to buy insurance.  They would do so rather than risk the penalty that the law provides, their lawyers told the court.

The one individual who has health insurance now, the new filing argued, has said all along that she would buy insurance.  (The fact that she actually had insurance, the government had argued, was not revealed until just recently.)  The individual, Jann DeMars, was able to buy insurance cheaper than she believes she would have to pay for insurance by the year 2014, when the new mandate takes effect.   The law will continue to affect her, the brief contended, because she is obliged to maintain health insurance on into the future.

Along with the response, the lawyers for the challengers filed two new sworn statements by two of the other individuals, Michigan lawyers John R. Ceci (his statement is here) and Steven Hyder (his declaration, for himself and his wife, also involved in the case, is here).  The new statements make new assertions as to how they are cutting back on their spending in order to accumulate funds to buy insurance when that becomes necessary to obey the new law.

The government did not ask the Circuit Court to dismiss the case before Wednesday’s oral argument, but rather to consider the mootness question during that hearing.  It is unknown whether the Circuit Court will act on the question prior to the argument.

Posted in Featured, Cases in the Pipeline, Health Care

Recommended Citation: Lyle Denniston, Move to rescue health care challenge, SCOTUSblog (May. 30, 2011, 9:24 PM),