Monday, January 24, 2011

Middle District of Pennsylvania denies U.S.'s 12(b)(1) motion in Goudy-Bachman v. HHS

District Judge Christopher C. Connor (M.D. Pa.) today issued a decision denying the United States's motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, under F.R.C.P. 12(b)(1), in Goudy-Bachman v. HHS. The plaintiffs' one claim (surprise!) is that the minimum essential coverage requirement exceeds Congress's enumerated powers. You can access the opinion here.

The United States had argued that the District Court lacked jurisdiction because (1) the plaintiffs lack standing, (2) their claim is unripe, and (3) the Anti-Injunction Act bars the lawsuit. Judge Connor rejected all three contentions. Specifically, he held as follows:

* The plaintiffs have alleged an imminent injury because they "must engage in financial preparation and reduced spending based upon their present circumstances in light of the impending effective date of the individual mandate."

* Their claim is ripe because (1) the plaintiffs have demonstrated that their injury is imminent, (2) "[n]either party suggests that a factual record will inform the court’s legal analysis of the commerce clause issue," and (3) "the public interest is best served by an expeditious resolution of the constitutionality of the Act."

* The Anti-Injunction Act is beside the point because "[t]he penalty is not a tax."

Judge Connor did not rule on the United States's motion to dismiss the Bachmans' complaint under Rule 12(b)(6) (for the failure to state a claim on which relief can be granted). Rather, the judge announced that he will issue a separate opinion addressing "whether the Bachamans have stated a plausible claim that the individual mandate exceeds Congress’s authority under the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution."