Health Care Reform Constitutional, Rules US Court of Appeals
President Barack Obama’s healthcare legislation, including the minimum coverage requirement, was ruled constitutional Tuesday by a United States appeals court Tuesday.
The 2 to 1 decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia paved the way for the sweeping healthcare reform bill to be put into practice in 2014.
It is unclear if the U.S. Supreme Court will hear the handful of appeals pending before the court that include suits filed by both states and individuals.
Tuesday’s ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals upholds a lower court ruling that ruled it was constitutional to require Americans to buy health insurance by 2014 or face a penalty. The lower court also dismissed a lawsuit challenging the previous ruling.
The latest ruling supports three previous court decisions upholding the law. Only one lower court ruled the bill unconstitutional.
Opponents of the bill have long cited states-rights should trump the federal government’s healthcare mandates. However, the latest U.S. appeals court disagreed with the states-rights argument in its written opinion.
"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, no matter how local -- or seemingly passive -- their individual origins," said Judge Laurence Silberman.
The healthcare bill aims to make one uniform policy for the nation despite individual states’ or communities’ objections to the mandatory coverage required by the legislation.
"It certainly is an encroachment on individual liberty, but it is no more so than a command that restaurants or hotels are obliged to serve all customers regardless of race ... or that a farmer cannot grow enough wheat to support his own family," Silberman said.
The lone dissenter, Judge Brett Kavanaugh, said the court did not have the jurisdiction to decide the constitutionality of the bill.
"We should hesitate to unnecessarily decide a case that could usher in a significant expansion of congressional authority with no obvious principled limit," said Kavanaugh.
Kavanaugh suggested waiting until after the bill takes effect before making a ruling on the legality of the measure.
The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule on the issue before the end of its current term.