Friday, August 12, 2011

Federal Appeals Court Rules Obamacare's Individual Mandate Unconstitutional

A provision in President Obama's healthcare bill mandating that all citicizens purchase health insurance was ruled unconstitutional by a US Appeals Court in Atlanta on Friday afternoon. The decison was a review of an earlier and much more sweeping ruling by a US District Judge in Florida.

The divided panel of three judges sided with 26 states that were filing suit against the Administration to block the implementation of Obamacare. Friday's decision will likely pave the way for the supreme court to hear arguments for and against HR 3590 [possibly in time for the 2012 Presidential campagin- NANESB!].
The panel said that Congress exceeded its constitutional authority by requiring Americans to buy insurance or face penalties.

"This economic mandate represents a wholly novel and potentially unbounded assertion of congressional authority," the panel said in the majority opinion.

The majority also said that a basic objective of the law is to "make health insurance coverage accessible and thereby to reduce the number of uninsured persons." Without the individual mandate, the majority said, the law "retains many other provisions that help to accomplish some of the same objectives as the individual mandate."

The states urged the 11th Circuit to uphold U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson's ruling, saying in a court filing that letting the law stand would set a troubling precedent that "would imperil individual liberty, render Congress's other enumerated powers superfluous, and allow Congress to usurp the general police power reserved to the states."

The Justice Department countered that Congress had the power to require most people to buy health insurance or face tax penalties because Congress has the authority to regulate interstate business. It said the legislative branch was exercising its "quintessential" rights when it adopted the new law.

During oral arguments in June, the three-judge panel repeatedly raised questions about the overhaul and expressed unease with the insurance requirement. Each of the three worried aloud if upholding the landmark law could open the door to Congress adopting other sweeping economic mandates.

The arguments unfolded in what's considered one of the nation's most conservative appeals courts. But the randomly selected panel represents different judicial perspectives. None of the three is considered either a stalwart conservative or an unfaltering liberal.
Friday's ruling could very well set the stage for a Supreme Court battle over Obamacare during the 2012 election cycle.

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