HOUSTON- 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 President Barack Obama's health care reform plan.
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 was a senior when he was arrested for handgun possession in March 1992. He ended up facing federal charges of violating the Gun-Free School Zones Act of 1990.
The Supreme Court threw out his conviction five years later on a 5-4 vote. The court ruled 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.