Here, you are urged and encouraged to run your mouths about something important.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Appellate Court: Obamacare Unconstitutional

The rulings on Obamacare between now and its final stop at the Supreme Court are not inconsequential. SCOTUS will be looking at the rulings of the lower courts. One court ruled the entire law unconstitutional. This appellate court ruled the individual mandate unconstitutional but everything else is ok. It will be interesting to see how that pans out because the reason the earlier court ruled the entire law was unconstitutional was because the individual mandate was unconstitutional and because there was no severability clause in the law (allowing parts to be ruled illegal), the entire law was ruled unconstitutional.

Via Reuters:
An appeals court ruled Friday that President Barack Obama's healthcare law requiring Americans to buy healthcare insurance or face a penalty was unconstitutional, a blow to the White House.

The Appeals Court for the 11th Circuit, based in Atlanta, found that Congress exceeded its authority by requiring Americans to buy coverage, but also ruled that the rest of the wide-ranging law could remain in effect.

The legality of the so-called individual mandate, a cornerstone of the 2010 healthcare law, is widely expected to be decided by the Supreme Court. The Obama administration has defended the provision as constitutional.

The case stems from a challenge by 26 U.S. states which had argued the individual mandate, set to go into effect in 2014, was unconstitutional because Congress could not force Americans to buy health insurance or face the prospect of a penalty.
Ok, so how can one judge rule the entire law unconstitutional because there is no severability clause and the other only rule one portion of the law unconstitutional without a severability clause?. A commenter at Free Republic named Crawdad appears to have posted the relevant portion of the most recent ruling:
To: americanophile
We first conclude that the Act’s Medicaid expansion is constitutional.
Existing Supreme Court precedent does not establish that Congress’s inducementsare unconstitutionally coercive, especially when the federal government will bear nearly all the costs of the program’s amplified enrollments.

Next, the individual mandate was enacted as a regulatory penalty, not a
revenue-raising tax, and cannot be sustained as an exercise of Congress’s power under the Taxing and Spending Clause. The mandate is denominated as a penalty in the Act itself, and the legislative history and relevant case law confirm this reading of its function.

Further, the individual mandate exceeds Congress’s enumerated commerce
power and is unconstitutional. This economic mandate represents a wholly novel and potentially unbounded assertion of congressional authority: the ability to compel Americans to purchase an expensive health insurance product they have elected not to buy, and to make them re-purchase that insurance product every month for their entire lives. We have not found any generally applicable, judicially enforceable limiting principle that would permit us to uphold the mandate without obliterating the boundaries inherent in the system of enumerated congressional powers. “Uniqueness” is not a constitutional principle in any antecedent Supreme Court decision. The individual mandate also finds no refuge in the aggregation doctrine, for decisions to abstain from the purchase of a product or service, whatever their cumulative effect, lack a sufficient nexus to commerce.145

The individual mandate, however, can be severed from the remainder of the
Act’s myriad reforms. The presumption of severability is rooted in notions of judicial restraint and respect for the separation of powers in our constitutional system. The Act’s other provisions remain legally operative after the mandate’s excision, and the high burden needed under Supreme Court precedent to rebut the presumption of severability has not been met.
Accordingly, we affirm in part and reverse in part the judgment of the district court.

AFFIRMED in part and REVERSED in part.
145Our respected dissenting colleague says that the majority: (1) “has ignored the broad power of Congress”; (2) “has ignored the Supreme Court’s expansive reading of the Commerce Clause”; (3) “presume[s] to sit as a superlegislature”; (4) “misapprehends the role of a reviewing court”; and (5) ignores that “as nonelected judicial officers, we are not afforded the opportunity to rewrite statutes we don’t like.” See Dissenting Op. at 208–209, 243. We do not respond to these contentions, especially given (1) our extensive and exceedingly careful review of the Act, Supreme Court precedent, and the parties’ arguments, and (2) our holding that the Act, despite significant challenges to this massive and sweeping federal regulation and spending, falls within the ambit and prerogative of Congress’s broad commerce power, except for one section, §
5000A. We do, however, refuse to abdicate our constitutional duty when Congress has acted beyond its enumerated Commerce Clause power in mandating that Americans, from cradle to grave, purchase an insurance product from a private company.

AFFIRMED in part and REVERSED in part.
HERE is the story on Vinson's ruling this past January.

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