A federal court in Atlanta ruled On Friday that the health care reform law’s insurance requirement is unconstitutional, delivering the Obama administration’s signature piece of legislation its first blow at the appellate court level.
The three-judge panel in the 11th U.S. Circuit of Appeals in Atlanta ruled 2-1 against the insurance requirement. It is the first appellate court to find the insurance requirement violates the constitution.
Chief Judge Joel Dubina and Circuit Judge Frank Hull wrote that “the individual mandate contained in the act exceeds Congress’s enumerated commerce power.” Circuit Judge Stanley Marcus dissented.
A federal appeals court in Cincinnati upheld the law’s insurance mandate in June. Another appellate case is pending at a court in Richmond, Va.
The Atlanta judges ruled against invalidating the entire law, instead finding the law could stand without the insurance coverage requirement. That is a small victory for the administration.
Appeals court in Atlanta hears states’ case against health care law
ATLANTA – The debate over President Obama’s healthcare reform law is so emotionally charged that competing protestors challenged each other on the sidewalk outside Atlanta’s U.S. 11 Circuit Court of Appeals Court on Wednesday.
Inside, a three judge panel heard formal arguments over Florida U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson’s earlier ruling that the 2010 law is unconstitutional.
Right off the bat, Chief Judge Joel Dubina questioned the Federal government’s assertion that it has a right to require Americans to buy health insurance by 2014.
“If we uphold the individual mandates in this case are there any limits on the power of Congress?” asked Dubina.
Acting U.S. Solicitor General Neal Katyal justified the mandate to shift the burden of paying medical costs for 50-million uninsured citizens.
Speaking on behalf of 26 states who want to overturn the law, former U.S. Solicitor Paul Clement argued that in 220 years Congress never saw fit to pass a law that required Americans to buy anything.
“It strikes me that this is really about individual liberty,” said Judge Stanley Marcus.