Sunday, August 14, 2011

Individual Mandate in Obamacare Ruled Unconstitutional (Again)

The passage of Obamacare in the wee hours of the morning on Christmas Eve 2009, is now wending its way slowly but predictably through the courts of appeal. Most recently (Friday), a three-judge panel of the U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta upheld the opinion of the lower court and ruled the individual mandate in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), more commonly known as Obamacare, is unconstitutional.

The carefully worded and thorough (over 300 page) set of opinions may be a bit obtuse to the average reader, but  the appellate jurists give hope to those of us who still believe the words written in the Constitution have meaning. This ruling signals that whatever an activist Congress, President, and willing judge want them to mean, the original intent and the actual words still have impact as the supreme law of the land. This ruling all but assures the Supreme Court will hear the cases currently on appeal, and then the states can finally dispose of a badly conceived idea.

Here's the conclusion of the opinion (if you want the blow-by-blow complete version, click here):

[T]he individual mandate is breathtaking in its expansive scope. It regulates those who have not entered the health care market at all. It regulates those who have entered the health care market, but have not entered the insurance market (and have no intention of doing so). It is overinclusive in when it regulates: it conflates those who presently consume health care with those who will not consume health care for many years into the future. The government’s position amounts to an argument that the mere fact of an individual’s existence substantially affects interstate commerce, and therefore Congress may regulate them at every point of their life. This theory affords no limiting principles in which to confine Congress’s enumerated power….
The federal government’s assertion of power, under the Commerce Clause, to issue an economic mandate for Americans to purchase insurance from a private company for the entire duration of their lives is unprecedented, lacks cognizable limits, and imperils our federalist structure.


  1. I guess it doesn't bother you that the "mandate" was a Republican construct and that your ol' buddy Orrin was one of the architects of the policy.

  2. Actually, you are exactly right, it bothers me a lot that it was a Republican construct and Hatch was dead wrong on it, along with Mitt Romney in Massachusetts -- my guess is the Supreme Court will finally strike down the individual mandate. As for "old buddy," Hatch has done a lot of things over the thirty-six years he's been in the Senate that drive me wild -- like his ill-advised but failed bid to get Utah a 4th seat in Congress before the Census was completed by favoring a quid pro quo deal to give D.C. a seat. And the list of his votes for fiscal irresponsibility is long and illustrious. He's now posing as the original Tea Party organizer, but it isn't going to work.