The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati ruled that the individual mandate to buy health insurance in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is constitutional, according to the opinion filed today (PDF). It is the first appeals court ruling among the four legal challenges to the act that have made it to oral arguments before a federal appeals court.
Court upholds reform law's individual mandate
The three judges on the appeals panel each filed an opinion in the ruling, which ran 64 pages. Two of the judges found that Congress did not exceed its authority under the commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution when it imposed the individual mandate, and thereby affirmed the ruling of a judge in U.S. District Court in Detroit. The mandate is “a regulation on the activity of participating in the national market for healthcare delivery,” and thereby valid under the commerce clause, wrote appellate Judge Boyce Martin Jr. President Jimmy Carter appointed Martin to the appeals court in 1979. Appellate Judge Jeffrey Sutton, appointed by President George W. Bush in 2003, concurred in the decision.
James Graham, senior judge of the U.S. District Court in Cincinnati, was the third judge on the panel, and he dissented from the ruling on the mandate. President Ronald Regan appointed Graham to the district court in 1986.
All three judges agreed that the penalties associated with violating the mandate are not a tax, so the plaintiffs had standing to seek an injunction against the penalties.
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