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Appeals Court Rules Obamacare Mandate Unconstitutional

by Steven Ertelt | Atlanta, GA | LifeNews.com | 8/12/11 1:43 PM

National

A federal appeals court today issued a ruling agreeing with a federal judge’s decision ruling the individual mandate at the heart of Obamacare is unconstitutional.

In January, a federal judge in Florida issued a ruling in what is the largest lawsuit filed against the Obamacare health care law. U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson said the individual mandate is unconstitutional and, therefore, the entire law is as well.

The individual mandate is a portion of the law independent and conservative voters most strongly oppose because it requires Americans to purchase health insurance, that could fund abortions with taxpayer funds or premiums, whether they want to or not. The case the state of Florida and more than two dozen others made to Judge Vinson is that the individual mandate is unconstitutional and the Constitution does not allow Congress to regular financial inactivity.

The Obama administration appealed the decision to the U.S. Appeals Court based in Atlanta, Georgia. Judge Vinson did not stop the implementation of the law pending the appeal which could take two years to reach the Supreme Court and result in a decision.

Today, a three judge panel of the federal appeals court ruled Obamacare’s individual mandate is unconstitutional, calling it “an unprecedented exercise of congressional power.”

The court said, “the individual mandate contained in the Act exceeds Congress’s enumerated commerce power. This conclusion is limited in scope. The power that Congress has wielded via the Commerce Clause for the life of this country remains undiminished. Congress may regulate commercial actors. It may forbid certain commercial activity. It may enact hundreds of new laws and federally-funded programs, as it has elected to do in this massive 975- page Act. But 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.”

“It cannot be denied that the individual mandate is an unprecedented exercise of congressional power. As the CBO observed, Congress “has never required people to buy any good or service as a condition of lawful residence in the United States.” CBO MANDATE MEMO, supra p.115, at 1. Never before has Congress sought to regulate commerce by compelling non-market participants to enter into commerce so that Congress may regulate them. The statutory language of the mandate is not tied to health care consumption—past, present, or in the future. Rather, the mandate is to buy insurance now and forever. The individual mandate does not wait for market entry,” it continued.

The panel was comprised of two Democratic-appointed judges and one Republican — making it hard for the Obama administration to dismiss the opinion as coming from conservative justices opposed to Obamacare.

The decision virtually guarantees the Supreme Court will take up the Obamacare case — as the Obama administration will very likely appeal the decision in what has become the largest and most focused-upon lawsuit against Obamacare.

The American Center for Law and Justice, a pro-life legal group, praised the ruling.

“The appeals court got it right and the decision represents a critical step forward in undoing ObamaCare,” said Jay Sekulow, Chief Counsel of the ACLJ, which is involved in litigation challenging ObamaCare. “The individual mandate, which forces Americans to purchase health insurance, exceeds the authority of the Commerce Clause. We’re delighted that the appeals court recognized that fact. While the appeals court did not declare the entire law unconstitutional, by striking the individual mandate, the entire law is clearly in jeopardy. We remain hopeful that the Supreme Court will ultimately declare the entire health care law unconstitutional.”

Previously, Judge Vinson ruled:  “Because the individual mandate is unconstitutional and not severable, the entire Act must be declared void. This has been a difficult decision to reach, and I am aware that it will have indeterminable implications. At a time when there is virtually unanimous agreement that health care reform is needed in this country, it is hard to invalidate and strike down a statute titled ‘The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.’”

“Regardless of how laudable its attempts may have been to accomplish these goals in passing the act, Congress must operate within the bounds established by the Constitution,” the judge wrote. “This case is not about whether the Act is wise or unwise legislation. It is about the Constitutional role of the federal government.”

“Congress exceeded the bounds of its authority in passing the Act with individual mandate,” he added.

Every leading pro-life organization opposed Obamacare over the abortion funding and rationing concerns.