11th Circuit Finds Health Care Mandate Unconstitutional

August 12, 2011 (PLANSPONSOR.com) – In a 2-1 decision, a federal appeals court panel has sided with 26 states in finding that the requirement in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that virtually all Americans must carry health insurance or face penalties is unconstitutional.

However, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed with U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida’s ruling that the entire reform statute would become invalid if appellate courts – most likely ultimately the U.S. Supreme Court – agree with his reasoning (see Florida HCR Challengers Win on Commerce Clause Argument).  

The Washington Post reports that Chief Judge Joel Dubina and Circuit Judge Frank Hull, found that “the individual mandate contained in the Act exceeds Congress’s enumerated commerce power.” The opinion said: “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.”  

However, the appeals panel said the unconstitutional insurance mandate could be severed from the rest of the law, with other provisions remaining “legally operative.”  

The news report said Circuit Judge Stanley Marcus disagreed with the ruling in a dissent.  

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld a lower court’s ruling that the individual coverage mandate in the health care reform bill is constitutional (see Court Upholds Ruling that Health Care Law is Constitutional).  

The Thomas More Law Center has filed a petition in the U. S. Supreme Court, asking the high court to review that decision (see Law Center Takes Health Care Challenge to Supreme Court).