Upon learning on Thursday that the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act, Northwest Ohio Libertarian candidates campaigning in the 2012 elections expressed dissent, branding the law as unconstitutional.
Local Libertarians running for U.S. Congress and the Ohio House of Representatives questioned the constitutionality of the individual mandate, which commands fines for citizens refusing to buy health insurance. They also decried the court’s interpretation of the mandate as a tax, and asserted that the 5-4 decision affirming “Obamacare” threatens businesses, individual liberties, and states’ rights.
Libertarian Sean Stipe, opposing incumbent Democrat Rep. Marcy Kaptur and Republican Samuel “Joe the Plumber” Wurzelbacher in the 9th U.S. Congressional District in Northwest Ohio, said the law imposes costly regulations on smaller businesses like his painting company. Stipe said that in this economy, if healthcare expenses increase significantly, “I’m closing shop, period.”
Stipe said he disagrees with Kaptur for supporting the bill passed by Congress in 2010. Kaptur was unavailable Friday for comment, but her website outlined what she views as the law’s main benefits.
Candidate Richard Ehrbar, raised near Toledo and running as a Libertarian in the 3rd U.S. Congressional District in Central Ohio, said the federal government should “protect commerce, not force commerce on individuals.” Ehrbar added that Thursday’s ruling was “definitely a blow to individual liberties and personal property rights.”
All Libertarian candidates interviewed saw Obamacare as overreaching by the federal government, and some suggested that states may nullify the law. Robert Sherwin, running for the party to represent the 57th District in the Ohio House of Representatives, said the legislation “sets a dangerous precedent in the powers that the federal government now has.” Sherwin feels that last year’s state constitutional amendment declaring that Ohioans cannot be forced to buy health insurance counterbalances federal powers, but explained, “without legislators in Columbus that have the guts to stand up to the feds, the amendment is not worth the paper it is written on.”
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine declared that the state’s amendment cannot trump federal law, but Sherwin still feels that individual businesses may legally challenge Obamacare when facing the act’s new directives.
Sherwin said, “I’m not against helping people,” adding that instead of government intervention, he favors cost-cutting alternatives – like tort reform, privatizing pharmaceutical testing, and allowing the sale of health insurance policies across state lines – to improve accessibility to healthcare.