Appeals Court Upholds Individual Mandate; Majority Opinion Rules Health Law Proviso Necessary

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), November 9, 2011 | Go to article overview

Appeals Court Upholds Individual Mandate; Majority Opinion Rules Health Law Proviso Necessary


Byline: Paige Winfield Cunningham, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

In a frank ruling upholding President Obama's new health care law, a federal appeals court said Tuesday the individual mandate requiring all Americans to buy health insurance encroaches on individual liberty, but is still constitutional because it allows the government to solve a national problem.

In a 2-1 ruling that delivered a victory to the White House, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia became the second appellate panel to uphold the individual mandate. Judge Laurence H. Silberman said requiring individuals to purchase health insurance is no different than other obligations the government imposes, such as requiring businesses to serve all customers regardless of race.

The right to be free from federal regulation is not absolute, and yields to the imperative that Congress be free to forge national solutions to national problems, no matter how local - or seemingly passive - their individual origins, Judge Silberman wrote in the majority opinion.

Brought by the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), a Christian legal group, the case involved five plaintiffs who said they could face thousands of dollars in fines for failing to purchase health insurance. They also argued that the mandate violated their religious freedom.

Jay Sekulow, chief counsel for ACLJ, said the organization would either ask the full appeals court to hear the case or ask the Supreme Court to take it up.

We still remain confident that Obamacare and the individual mandate, which forces Americans to purchase health insurance, is the wrong prescription for America and ultimately will be struck down as unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court.

At issue is whether the individual mandate falls under a clause in the Constitution allowing Congress to regulate commerce between the states. Supporters say the mandate falls within appropriate bounds because everyone requires health care at some point in their lives - thus requiring someone to pay for it.

But opponents charge that Congress exceeded its authority in passing the mandate, and that if allowed to stand, there will be no limit to what Americans may be required to buy.

Judge Harry T. Edwards agreed with Judge Silberman, who wrote that the apparent absence of a limit on Congress' ability to require Americans to purchase any product or service was troubling, but not fatal. …

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Appeals Court Upholds Individual Mandate; Majority Opinion Rules Health Law Proviso Necessary
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