Small business group likely to get its day in high court

Dan Danner, NFIB
Dan Danner

A lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of President Barack Obama’s health care law has arrived at the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court.

This terrible, costly law is not only bad policy — utterly failing to deliver on its promises of reducing health-care costs — it adds insult to injury by overstepping its boundaries and entirely ignoring the Constitution. That’s why the the National Federation of Independent Business Legal Center brought this suit against the government. For nearly two years, we have fought in the lower courts … and won. Last week, we advanced the fight by filing an appeal in the Supreme Court. Having the voice of small businesses heard in the nation’s highest court would be nothing short of historic for the NFIB and its members.

We were thrilled in August when a three-judge panel on the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with NFIB that the law’s individual mandate — the provision that would require every American to purchase a government-approved health-insurance plan — is unconstitutional. The court agreed that forcing Americans to purchase a product would violate the essential freedoms protected by the Constitution.

That lower court, however, didn’t rule on something else we need to know: whether or not the entire law can stand without the individual mandate. The judges deferred on that issue to the nation’s highest court.

At the NFIB, we know that the health care law is like a house made of Popsicle sticks (tongue depressors in this case!) and the individual mandate is like the glue holding it together. Without that glue, the law cannot stand. Even the government has conceded that point. Congress would not have passed the law without the individual mandate because they knew it wouldn’t work without it. They needed to force everyone — especially younger, healthier Americans — to buy insurance to make their scheme work. If health insurance remains optional — as it should be in a free country — none of the law’s math will work.

The Supreme Court is very likely to take our case for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that it is the strongest suit of all that have challenged this law. Make no mistake: The strength of our suit comes from the fact that we filed it on behalf of small business owners.

NFIB is the only business group to challenge the health care law. We don’t stay silent or work things out with the government. At NFIB, we choose to fight.

Although our partners on the suit — the 26 state governments who filed with us — are often mentioned more prominently in news stories, you should know that this really is NFIB’s lawsuit. It would not have reached the steps of the Supreme Court without us and the business owners we represent.

We should get word from the Supreme Court later this year about whether it hear our case in the spring. We are confident it will and we’ll keep you informed at every step. After all, it will be your day in court, taking a stand against a government that has gone too far.

Dan Danner is president and chief executive officer of the National Federation of Independent Business. Reach Danner through the Web site at