Federal Appeals Court Rules Obamacare Constitutional

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 8, 2011   |   4:16PM   |   Washington, DC

In another of the many split decisions at the federal appeals court level setting up a battle at the Supreme Court, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 in favor of ObamaCare’s individual mandate.

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The mandate requires Americans to purchase health insurance and pro-life groups opposed Obamacare because that insurance could fund abortions, not provide protection for pro-life medical workers, and may promote rationing.

Despite acknowledging “discomfort” with the government’s inability to suggest meaningful limits on congressional power under its interpretation of the Commerce Clause, Reagan appointee Lawrence Silberman admitted that any limits on congressional power to control or compel commerce are not apparent to members of the court’s majority, either.

“The Government concedes the novelty of the mandate and the lack of any doctrinal limiting principles; indeed, at oral argument, the Government could not identify any mandate to purchase a product or service in interstate commerce that would be unconstitutional, at least under the Commerce Clause.  But the Government does stress that the health care market is factually unique; there are few other markets, it says, where participation is a virtual certainty, or where declining to buy a product disproportionately causes a national economic problem,” the ruling says.

It continues: “We acknowledge some discomfort with the Government’s failure to advance any clear doctrinal principles limiting congressional mandates that any American purchase any product or service in interstate commerce. But to tell the truth, those limits are not apparent to us, either because the power to require the entry into commerce is symmetrical with the power to prohibit or condition commercial behavior, or because we have not yet perceived a qualitative limitation.

The American Center for Law and Justice, a pro-life law firm that is representing opponents of the law in court against Obamacare, said it is disappointed a federal appeals court in Washington, D.C. rejected its appeal and failed to reinstate its federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of ObamaCare and the individual mandate.

“We’re disappointed the appeals court rejected our request to reinstate our lawsuit challenging ObamaCare,” said Jay Sekulow, Chief Counsel, American Center for Law and Justice.

He told LifeNews: “This decision reinforces the fact that the courts are split about this flawed health care law. As we determine our next course of action – whether to ask the full appeals court to hear the case – or directly ask the Supreme Court to take the case – 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.”

In a decision issued today, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit rejected the ACLJ’s appeal which argued that the individual mandate violates the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution and failed to reinstate the ACLJ lawsuit.

The Supreme Court is scheduled to consider the issue of ObamaCare at a conference later this week and could decide within days if and when the high court will tackle the constitutionality of the health care law.

In addition to its legal action, the ACLJ backed legal challenges by Florida and Virginia as well. Last month, the ACLJ filed an amicus brief at the Supreme Court urging the Justices to take up a Florida case challenging ObamaCare. We represent 105 members of Congress – including House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. We also represent more than 29,000 Americans who have signed on to our committee opposing ObamaCare. In our amicus brief, we urge the high court to hear the case and declare the entire health care law unconstitutional.