Friday, August 12, 2011

11th Circuit Court Of Appeals Finds The Health Law's Individual Mandate Unconstitutional

Preface: What follows is the Kaiser Health News report on the Court of Appeals' decision in Atlanta on the Constitutionality of Obamacare's individual mandate. The decision paves the way towards a Supreme Court decision on the matter. The question left in my mind is: Will the Supreme Court render its decision before or after the November 2012 Presidential election. In that decision may well hinge the outcome of the election, not only of the President but the makeup of Congress itself.

The 2-to-1 decision marks a major blow to the Obama administration in its legal battle over the health law. But in the ruling, which addresses the challenge filed by 26 states, the court also disagreed with a lower court's ruling and will allow other provisions of the law to remain "legally operative."

The Wall Street Journal: "The 2-1 ruling marks the Obama administration's biggest defeat to date in the multifront legal battle over the health-care law. The decision directly conflicts with a ruling issued in June by a federal appeals court in Cincinnati that upheld the law. ... The decision affirmed part of a January ruling by U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson of Florida, who ruled the health-insurance mandate unconstitutional. The appeals court, however, overturned the portion of Judge Vinson's decision that voided the entire health-care law. The appeals panel said the unconstitutional insurance mandate could be severed from the rest of the law, with other provisions remaining 'legally operative'" (Kendall, 8/12).

Kaiser Health News has the entire PDF of the ruling as well as an excerpt of the conclusion. KHN also provides an updated scorecard tracking the health law court challenges.

Politico: "The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday ruled that the health care reform law's requirement that nearly all Americans buy insurance is unconstitutional, a striking blow to the legislation. The suit was brought by 26 states — nearly all led by Republican governors and attorneys general. The Department of Justice is expected to appeal" (Haberkorn, 8/12).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: "[T]he panel didn't go as far as a lower court that had invalidated the entire overhaul as unconstitutional. The states and other critics argued the law violates people's rights, while the Justice Department countered that the legislative branch was exercising a 'quintessential' power. ... The 11th Circuit isn’t the first appeals court to weigh in on the issue. The federal appeals court in Cincinnati upheld the government’s new requirement that most Americans buy health insurance, and an appeals court in Richmond has heard similar legal constitutional challenges to the law. But the Atlanta-based court is considered by many observers to be the most pivotal legal battleground yet because it reviewed a sweeping ruling by a Florida judge" (Bluestein, 8/12).

Los Angeles Times: In the decision, "judges in Atlanta said this mandate is "unprecedented" and unlike any commercial regulation upheld in the past. Even during the Great Depression or World War II, 'Congress never sought to require the purchase of wheat or war bonds, force a higher savings rate or greater consumption of American goods,' the judges said. While Congress may regulate those who buy insurance, it may not regulate those who 'have not entered the insurance market and have no intention of doing so.' The decision by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals is a victory for 26 states, led by Florida, which challenged the law as unconstitutional. However, the judges agreed that the rest of the law beyond the mandate is constitutional" (Savage, 8/12).

Bloomberg Businessweek: "President Barack Obama's health-care reform law's provision requiring individuals obtain coverage "exceeds Congress's commerce power" and is unconstitutional, a U.S. appeals court ruled, affirming a federal judge's January decision to invalidate that portion of the act in a lawsuit brought by 26 states" (Harris and Davidson, 8/12).

Reuters/CNBC: "The legality of the so-called individual mandate, a cornerstone of the healthcare law, is widely expected to be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. The Obama administration has defended the provision as constitutional" (8/12).

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