Supreme Court May Make Obamacare Decision Soon

November 9th, 2011
in econ_news

scale-of-justice-157x160 Econintersect:  Another appeals court decision has been handed down in the matter of the constitutionality of requiring all Americans to buy health care insurance.  The conservative U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia issued a split decision on the matter Tuesday, November 8.  The decision was that Congress acted within its constitutional authority when enacting the 2010 law.  The suit had been brought by the American Center for Law and Justice, an organization founded by evangelist Pat Robertson.

Follow up:

An article at MSNBC pointed out the technicalities in some of the opinions written in this and other appeals court cases:

"That a direct requirement for most Americans to purchase any product or service seems an intrusive exercise of legislative power surely explains why Congress has not used this authority before — but that seems to us a political judgment rather than a recognition of constitutional limitations," Judge Laurence Silberman, an appointee of President Ronald Reagan wrote in the court's opinion. Silberman was joined by Judge Harry Edwards, a Carter appointee. But, they added, "The right to be free from federal regulation is not absolute and yields to the imperative that Congress be free to forge national solutions to national problems."

Judge Brett Kavanaugh, a former aide to President George W. Bush who appointed him to the bench, disagreed with the conclusion without taking a position on the merits of the law. He wrote a lengthy opinion arguing the court doesn't have jurisdiction to review the health care mandate until after it takes effect in 2014.

A previous decision by in Richmond last year made a ruling similar to Kavanaugh’s dissenting opinion, essentially that, to uphold federal law, citizens must begin paying tax penalty for not buying insurance before they would have standing to file suit.  Other appeals court cases have upheld the law (Cincinnati) and ruled the insurance mandate unconstitutional (Atlanta).

On October 26 the Washington Post reported that the Supreme Court had put the subject on their agenda for November 10 for discussion behind closed doors.  According to the article, the discussion was scheduled to consider whether or not to hear appeals for the Altlanta, Cinncinnati and/or Richmond rulings.  An announcement could come as early as Thursday, at the conclusion of the meeting, or no later than Monday, November 14.

Sources:   MSNBC and Washington Post

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