The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that ObamaCare's individual mandate is unconstitutional. This is the second appellate court to issue a ruling on the 2,000-page law, following the Sixth Circuit Court that deemed the law Constitutional. This means we have split circuits, folks.
Read today's 304-page opinion here.
Moreover, today's 11th circuit ruling marks the first time a Democrat-appointed judge has ruled against ObamaCare. In a 2-1 decision, Judges Frank Hull and Joel Dubina ruled against the mandate, and Judge Stanley Marcus dissented.
Notably, the Court ruled that specifically the individual mandate provision is unconstitutional, but that the rest of the law can stand. I guess I should say the Court ruled that the rest of the law "may" stand. I have reservations about whether or not the rest of the law "can" stand without the individual mandate.
This case was the most successful of any legal challenge to ObamaCare at the District Court level. Judge Roger Vinson ruled that because the individual mandate is unconstitutional, and it is unseverable from the rest of the law, the entire law was void. His decision about the Constitutionality of the mandate has been upheld today. Stay tuned to www.healthcarelawsuits.org for the latest information. Here's what the experts are saying today:
Randy Barnett, Professor of Legal Theory, Georgetown Law:
Now that judges appointed by both Democratic and Republican presidents have found the individual insurance mandate to be unconstitutional, the nation's interest requires the Supreme Court to hear this case next term. Only then would the uncertainty inflicted upon the national economy by this unprecedented and unconstitutional law be lifted. Both the country and the Constitution cannot afford any delay.
Ilya Shapiro, Senior Fellow in Constitutional Studies at the Cato Institute, Editor-in-Chief of the Cato Supreme Court Review:
Today is a great day for liberty. By striking down the individual mandate, the Eleventh Circuit has reaffirmed that the Constitution places limits on the federal government’s power. Congress can do a great many things under modern constitutional jurisprudence, but, as the court concludes, “what Congress cannot do under the Commerce Clause is 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.” Indeed, just because Congress can regulate the health insurance industry does not mean it can also require people to buy that industry’s products. Read More…
Ilya Somin, Associate Professor of Law, George Mason University School of Law:
Today's 11th Circuit decision striking down the individual mandate is a great victory for the Constitution and limited government. The court correctly recognized that there is no way to uphold the mandate without giving Congress unlimited power to mandate anything it wants, including the purchase of broccoli, cars, or any other product.
Carrie Severino, policy director and counsel for the Judicial Crisis Network (JCN) and former law clerk for Justice Thomas:
Today’s decision puts the ball squarely in the administration’s court. If they’re really confident Obamacare meets constitutional muster and are serious about removing the uncertainty that will continue to hamper economic recovery, they’ll bring the case where we all know it’s headed: the Supreme Court. A bi-partisan panel of judges has invalidated the law, and, given the composition of the 11th Circuit, it is likely that en banc review would lead to the same outcome. So if the administration starts the procedural foot-dragging it will only be because they are less interested in resolving the legal issue and more interested in election year politics and pushing Obamacare’s day of reckoning past November 2012.
Stephen B. Presser, professor of legal history, Northwestern University:
Today's decision by the 11th Circuit, essentially says that if Congress can compel Americans to buy health insurance there is nothing that Congress cannot do. This reaffirms that we have a federal government of limited and enumerated powers. We have now heard from both district and courts of appeals reaching different conclusions, and it is time for the United States Supreme Court speedily and clearly to resolve the issue. Further delay to hear from more lower federal court judges is unwarranted. All the issues are addressed in these many opinions, and it is now imperative that the Supreme Court resolve them, lest this uncertainty adversely affect not only health care, but our future as a republic in which the rule of law prevails.
So what does this mean for the next step? It means the federal government has 90 to appeal the decision. This time… the appeal is to the Supreme Court of the United States.
Another option is to request an en banc hearing, which would mean all the judges on the 11th Circuit would hear the case (instead of a three judge panel). Will the government take this route to delay the already-slow march to the SCOTUS? I hope not. The majority of voters wants the Supreme Court to decide about this law. And for the sake of insurers, employers, families, taxpayers, doctors, and patients… let's please let the High Court decide soon.