Is the Health Care Law Unconstitutional?

Aug 27th, 2011 | By | Category: Featured Issues, Politics & Current Events

The provision in President Obama?s health care law requiring Americans to purchase health insurance or face tax penalties was ruled unconstitutional on 12 August 2011 by the US Court of Appeals of the 11th Circuit in Atlanta.  The court ruled that Congress exceeded its powers to regulate commerce when it decided to require people to buy health insurance (aka the ?individual mandate?).  [The rest of the wide-ranging law was allowed to stand.]  The court argued that Congress ?cannot . . . under the Commerce Clause . . .  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 Court also ruled that the ?individual mandate? is ?breathtaking in its expansive scope.  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.?  The argument of the 11th Circuit Court is compelling and the first real challenge to the constitutionality of the ?individual mandate.?  It is erudite and persuasive.  There is little doubt now that the US Supreme Court will need to rule on the constitutionality of this provision.  For the first time since it was passed, this provision of the health care legislation is in real jeopardy.  Perhaps as early as next spring, we could see the Supreme Court overturn this provision of the health care law.

See the editorial in the Wall Street Journal (13-14 August 2011) and the news article by Michael Cooper in the New York Times (13 August 2011). PRINT PDF

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