Appeals Court Strikes Down Health Insurance Mandate

Posted: Aug 12, 2011 2:11 PM

In a ruling by a three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, Georgia, the divided panel sided with the 26 states that have so far sued the federal government in order to block the implementation of the incoming healthcare law. However, while the federal appeals court maintained that the indivdiual health insurance mandate (considered the binding prerequisite of the entire package) is a deal breaker, they did not rule the entire health care law unconstitutional:

The decision, penned by Chief Judge Joel Dubina and Circuit Judge Frank Hull, found that “the individual mandate contained in the Act exceeds Congress’s enumerated commerce power.”

“What Congress cannot do under the Commerce Clause is mandate that individuals enter into contracts with private insurance companies for the purchase of an expensive product from the time they are born until the time they die,” the opinion said.

Circuit Judge Stanley Marcus disagreed in a dissent. ...

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.

U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson’s ruling not only struck down a requirement that nearly all Americans carry health insurance, but he also threw out other provisions ranging from Medicare discounts for some seniors to a change that allows adult children up to age 26 to remain on their parents’ coverage.

The states urged the 11th Circuit to uphold 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.”

Addendum: Take note that, of the assenting judges, U.S. Chief Circuit Judge Joel Dubina is a Reagan appointee and U.S. Circuit Judge Frank M. Hull is a Clinton appointee. The dissenter in the 2 to 1 opinion, U.S. Circuit Judge Stanley Marcus, was a Reagan appointee as well - it seems that the chips are falling across both aisles. As this decision only partially struck down the Obama administration's appeal of Judge Vinson's ruling, its looking evermore likely this case will hit the Supreme court (the 'whither' isn't really in question, but the 'when' is becoming increasingly pressing as 2014 approaches).