11th Circuit Court Of Appeals Rules Obamacare Individual Mandate Is Unconstitutional
I missed the news on Friday, but the 11th circuit court of appeals upheld a lower court ruling that the individual mandate in Obamacare was unconstitutional, but they didn’t go so far as to uphold Judge Vinson’s ruling that the entirety of Obamacare was unconstitutional. The three-judge panel severed the individual mandate leaving the rest of the law (including the Medicaid expansion) untouched.
From the ruling:
Few powers, if any, could be more attractive to Congress than compelling the purchase of certain products. Yet even if we focus on the modern era, when congressional power under the Commerce Clause has been at its height, Congress still has not asserted this authority. Even in the face of a Great Depression, a World War, a Cold War, recessions, oil shocks, inflation, and unemployment, Congress never sought to require the purchase of wheat or war bonds, force a higher savings rate or greater consumption of American goods, or require every American to purchase a more fuel efficient vehicle. …
The individual mandate is breathtaking in its expansive scope. It regulates those who have not entered the health care market at all. It regulates those who have entered the health care market, but have not entered the insurance market (and have no intention of doing so). It is overinclusive in when it regulates: it conflates those who presently consume health care with those who will not consume health care for many years into the future. The government’s position amounts to an argument that the mere fact of an individual’s existence substantially affects interstate commerce, and therefore Congress may regulate them at every point of their life. This theory affords no limiting principles in which to confine Congress’s enumerated power.
This is a win in so far as the court is siding with the Obama administration’s view that the government can force you to engage in commerce. But this is still bad in that it allows other aspects of Obamcare, such as the defacto nationalization of health care by forcing consumers to purchase only those policies approved for sale on government-run health care exchanges, totally intact.
In fact, so far the only court to rule that all of Obamacare is unconstitutional is the lower court in this appeal. Judge Vinson ruled that because the individual mandate was central to Obamacare it could not be severed and the entire legislation was illegal. Every other court that has reached a similar finding about the individual mandate has, though, gone on to sever it from the rest of the legislation.
With a circuit court now also refusing to sever, it seems unlikely that the Supreme Court would sever if it also struck down the individual mandate. Meaning that even if Obamacare opponents win in court Congress will still likely have work to do if we want a full-scale repeal.Tags: constitution, obamacare