Obamacare’s Fifth Amendment Problem

Obamacare’s Fifth Amendment Problem
The Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution states, in relevant part, that “No person shall be . . . deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” The concept of “due process” is multi-faceted, generally meaning that a person cannot be deprived of a legally-protected interest (i.e. “life, liberty,or property”) without notice and an opportunity to be heard. In other words, at the very least a citizen has a right to defend their interests.

But what if a citizen’s defense is that compliance with the state’s legal mandate is impossible? Interestingly, that is a not a novel legal question. In a number of contexts, the Supreme Court and lower federal courts have raised due process concerns in the face of impossibility, especially state-created impossibility.

For example, in Societe Internationale v. Rogers, the Supreme Court held the trial court improperly dismissed a case for a “failure to do that which it may not have been in its power to do.” In other words, since the litigant did not have the power to comply with a court production order, it could not be penalized for failing to comply — especially when that inability is “fostered neither by its own conduct nor by circumstances within its control.

Read more at www.aclj.org
JavaScript is off. Please enable to view full site.