Obama’s socialist healthcare law suffered a obstruction on Friday when the U.S. Appeals Court for the 11th Circuit, based in Atlanta, ruled 2 to 1 that Congress exceeded its authority by requiring Americans to buy coverage. They ruled it was unconstitutional to require all Americans to buy insurance or face a penalty.
The legality of the individual mandate, a cornerstone of the healthcare law, is widely expected to be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. Democrats have argued that without the provision forcing people to participate, which goes into effect in 2014, the entire law falls.
The law, adopted by a Democratic Congress in 2010 after a bruising battle, is expected to be a major political issue in the 2012 elections as Obama seeks another term. All the major Republican presidential candidates have opposed it.
Because this ruling conflicts with another appeals court ruling that upheld the law, the Supreme Court is expected to take it up during its term that begins in October with a ruling possible just months before the November 2012 presidential election.
Legal experts said it was impossible to predict how the high court will rule but agreed that it may be a close vote by nine ideologically divided justices, with moderate conservative Justice Anthony Kennedy as the possible swing vote.
Twenty-six States together had challenged the mandate, arguing that Congress had exceeded its authority by imposing such a requirement. A federal judge in Florida sided with the States and struck down the entire law, leading the Obama administration to appeal.
A divided three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit found that it did not pass muster under that clause or under the power of Congress to tax. The Obama gang has said the penalty for not buying healthcare coverage is akin to a tax.
“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 repurchase that insurance product every month for their entire lives,” the majority said, written by Judges Joel Dubina and Frank Hull, in its 207-page opinion.,
This decision contrasts with one by the U.S. Appeals Court for the 6th Circuit, based in Cincinnati, which had upheld the individual mandate as constitutional. That case has already been appealed to the Supreme Court.
The Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, based in Richmond, has yet to rule on a separate challenge by the State of Virginia. A federal judge in that State had ruled the mandate unconstitutional as well.
“Today we have prevailed in preventing Congress from infringing on the individual liberty protected by the U.S. Constitution,” Florida’s Attorney General Pam Bondi said.
The Obama administration on Friday issued new bribes for States and people to participate in health insurance exchanges, including tax credits and funding grants for the States.
(A link to the court decision: http://www.uscourts.gov/uscourts/courts/ca11/201111021.pdf)