House Republicans challenge individual mandate in court brief

A dozen House Republicans, including Tea Party favorites Michele Bachmann (Minn.) and Ron Paul (Texas), challenged the new healthcare reform law's individual mandate in a friend-of-the-court brief filed in federal appeals court.

The House Republicans said a federal district judge in Michigan — the first to uphold the reform law's requirements for individuals to purchase health insurance — acknowledged that the mandate "goes well beyond any previous exercise of federal authority."

In October, U.S. District Court Judge George Steeh became the first of two federal judges, both Clinton appointees, to rule that the Constitution's Commerce Clause gives Congress the power to require individuals to purchase health insurance. Last month, a federal judge in Virginia appointed by President George W. Bush ruled the opposite, saying the Commerce Clause does not regulate an individual's decision not to buy health insurance.

The lawmakers' brief was filed in the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, which is deciding whether to hear an appeal of the Michigan case.

"Because the district court’s order upholding the individual mandate under the Commerce Clause amounts to a declaration of virtually unlimited congressional power, it must be reversed," the House Republicans wrote in the brief with the Washington Legal Foundation.

Other House Republicans filing the brief included Dan Burton (Ind.), Mike Conaway (Texas), Lynn Jenkins (Kan.), Dan Lungren (Calif.), Tom McClintock (Calif.), Gary Miller (Calif.), Ted Poe (Texas), Cathy McMorris Rodgers (Wash.), Jean Schmidt (Ohio) and Todd Tiahrt (Kan.).

The Virginia judge who struck down the individual mandate last month decided not to block implementation of the law. A federal judge in Florida is expected to rule this month on another challenge to the individual mandate, as well as the reform law's expansion of the Medicaid program.

The requirement for individuals to purchase insurance is scheduled to go into effect in 2014.