Politics and Public Opinion, Law and the Constitution

A Sharp Blow for ObamaCare as Individual Mandate Nears Supreme Court

A sharp blow for ObamaCare today as the U.S. Appeals Court for the 11th Circuit in Atlanta ruled against the provision that mandates Americans to buy health insurance or face a penalty. Twenty-six states had challenged the constitutionality of the mandate, which is expected to go all the way to the Supreme Court. “This economic mandate represents a wholly novel and potentially unbounded assertion of congressional authority: the ability to compel Americans to purchase an expensive health insurance product they have elected not to buy, and to make them re-purchase that insurance product every month for their entire lives,” the majority said in its opinion. The two judges in the majority on the three-judge panel were appointed by Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush.

Democrats fired back at the ruling. The White House predicted that the 11th Circuit judgment will not stand. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) tweeted, “Dems oppose efforts to put insurance companies back in charge & I’m confident Affordable Care Act will ultimately be upheld.”  The law is supposed to go into effect in 2014, and the legal battle at the Supreme Court could come right smack in the middle of President Obama’s re-election campaign next summer.

AEI resident fellow Thomas P. Miller, who has helmed our think-tank’s “Beyond Repeal and Replace” project and co-authored “Why ObamaCare Is Wrong for America,” has written some good material for those wanting to delve deeper into the battle over the healthcare law. A sampling:

- “Taking the Individual Mandate Off Life Support,” The Weekly Standard: “Whether it is repealed by legislation or by the courts, the mandate needs to be replaced by something else that works better to address serious cost and coverage problems in health insurance.”

- “One Year In, Americans Want a Divorce from Obamacare,” Real Clear Markets: “Facing serious constitutional challenges and persistent political opposition to an individual mandate, the Obama administration has tried to defend it by concocting a mix of half-baked economic arguments and exaggerated factoids.”

- “‘Hoist with His Own Petard’ — The Individual Mandate Blows Up ObamaCare,” The Enterprise Blog: “An additional irony is that our current president and many of his Democratic Party allies in Congress and elsewhere have relied for many years on using the courts aggressively, as well as ambitiously extending regulatory interpretations beyond the original text of statutes, to achieve what they could not win through more transparent and accountable, but less malleable, political processes.”

AEI will be hosting a half-day conference on Sept. 15 to examine the various appellate decisions thus far. Confirmed speakers include Greg Katsas, successful counsel for the plaintiffs in the 11th circuit case decided today, Eric Klaeys of George Mason Law School, and Jim Blumstein of Vanderbilt Law. Stay tuned for more details.

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