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April 5, 2010

1992 Texas gun case could play role in Obamacare suit

Topics: Police Brutality and Corruption

So, how could a 1992 case involving a Texas high school student's decision to bring a .38-caliber handgun to school in 1992 could end up at the center of the legal fight over Obamacare? How about a SCOTUS having ruled that Congress exceeded its regulatory authority under the Constitution because it had nothing to do with commerce between states. - almost exactly the argument 13 state attorneys general's are making in their lawsuit filed March 23.

Dan Freedman writes at the AP:

Alfonso Lopez Jr.'s arrest at Edison High School in San Antonio set in motion a legal battle that may prove crucial to 13 state attorneys general fighting the new law.

Lopez, a senior when he was arrested for handgun possession in March 1992, ended up facing federal charges of violating the Gun-Free School Zones Act of 1990. But the Supreme Court, on a 5-4 vote, threw out his conviction five years later on the grounds that Congress exceeded its regulatory authority under the Constitution when it approved the 1990 law, which makes it a violation of federal law to possess a firearm in a school zone.

In filing a lawsuit last week challenging the new health care law's mandate that everyone must have health insurance, the 13 state attorneys general -- including Greg Abbott of Texas -- cited the same legal reasoning that went into the Lopez ruling.

At issue in both cases is the Constitution's commerce clause, which limits the regulatory powers of Congress to matters involving interstate commerce. In the Lopez decision, conservatives on the court led by then-Chief Justice William Rehnquist ruled that the 1990 gun law was unconstitutional because it had nothing to do with commerce between states.

Upholding the federal government's right to control guns in school zones would give Congress "a general police power of the sort retained by the states," Rehnquist wrote for the majority.

That's almost exactly the argument the states are making now in a lawsuit filed March 23.

Read on, there's much more.

AS Freedman goes on to point out, the makeup of SCOTUS has changed since the Lopez case was decided, and while the reaction of experts is mixed, the lawsuit is by no means "frivolous."

Posted by Richard at April 5, 2010 4:03 PM

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