Texas convict files WV suit against Affordable Care Act - WBOY.com: Clarksburg, Morgantown: News, Sports, Weather

Texas convict files WV suit against Affordable Care Act

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A Texas convict who ran for president in the 2012 presidential primary is taking his fight against the Affordable Care Act to federal court in West Virginia, alleging the tax penalty is unconstitutional.

Keith Judd, an inmate at Beaumont Federal Correctional Institution, received 41 percent of the vote in last year's Democratic primary in West Virginia. He won nearly as many votes as Republican candidate Mitt Romney.

Judd, who is serving a 17 ½ year sentence for making threats at the University of New Mexico in 1999, filed his complaint for declaratory judgment and injunction against the Commissioner of Internal Revenue and the U.S. Department of the Treasury March 8 in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia.

Acting as his own attorney, Judd is asking the court to enjoin the IRS from collecting the tax penalty of the Affordable Care Act, saying "the command is unconstitutional and cannot be enforced under Congress's taxing power."

The Affordable Care Act was signed into law March 23, 2010. Shortly after, 13 states sued, challenging its constitutionality. Thirteen later turned into 26 states. However, West Virginia decided not to join the suit.

The law also included penalties that would be levied on individuals and businesses that do not comply with the act. The law stipulates that those penalties should begin to go into place in 2014.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled the mandate is allowed on the grounds that it is a tax. However, the court did strike down a portion of the law that required states to expand Medicaid coverage, leaving it up to the states to decide.

Judd's suit alleges the Anti-Injunction Act provides that no suit can be brought to restrain the assessment of any tax. He further states in his suit that the government argued that the individual mandate be labeled as a penalty, not a tax and that the Supreme Court decided that the Affordable Care Act does not require the penalty be treated as a tax for the purpose of the Anti-Injunction Act.

So, Judd said the Anti-Injunction Act does not apply to his suit.

Judd said he is scheduled for release from federal prison within days and will be living in Odessa, Texas. His suit states he and his wife will be earning above 133 percent of the poverty level and will be required to purchase health insurance or pay this penalty.

"However, due to the cost of living, rising prices, poor economy, and low pay job market, petitioner and his common law wife choose not to purchase health insurance at this time because of a tight budget."

Judd's suit said the Supreme Court held that the commerce clause did not provide Congress with the power to tell people to buy health insurance and since this "command" is unconstitutional, the individual mandate "must be severed," Judd alleges.

Judd also alleges the mandate can't be both a penalty and a tax.

 "It can't be both ways," Judd said in his suit. "If the Affordable Care Act penalty is a tax, then the Supreme Court would have jurisdiction for the decision in Sebelius, supra, under the Anti-Injunction Act."

"If the Affordable Care Act penalty is as it says, a penalty, then Congress lacks taxing power to impose the penalty on citizens who do not purchase health insurance."

Judd additionally argued the tax-penalty provision violated the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution by requiring him to report on his income tax filing the lack of health insurance.

He said it also violates First Amendment rights by prohibiting free exercise of religion.

"The free exercise of religion does account for healing and creation by God. The penalty-tax inhibits this practice," the suit states. "The Affordable Care Act, transforms the government into a deity or god which establishes the government as a religion forced by commands and the tax-penalty."

Judd asks the court to declare the tax-penalty unconstitutional and to prohibit the collection of the tax.