Obamacare Legal Debate Ratchets Up
U.S. Appeals Court judges in Atlanta are expressing concerns about President Barack Obama’s socialized medicine law – particularly the individual mandate requirement that a pair of District Court judges have already deemed unconstitutional.
In testimony before the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, the judges expressed strong reservations about government appropriating such sweeping power over its people.
“If we uphold the individual mandate in this case, are there any limits on Congressional power?” one of the judges asked a government attorney.
Obama officials have been trying to defend the law – and the mandate – against a multiple lawsuits, including one filed by the Attorneys General of 26 states. That effort backfired dramatically earlier this week.
Testifying before a U.S. Appeals Court in Cincinnati on Wednesday, acting U.S. Solicitor General Neal Kumar Katyal suggested that Americans who didn’t like the new law could avoid its consequences by … wait for it … earning less money.
“It’s a penalty on earning a certain amount of income and self insuring,” Katyal said. “It’s not just on self insuring on its own. So I guess one could say … someone doesn’t need to earn that much income.”
Wow … can’t wait to see how that argument resonates.
The debate over the law is clearly headed to the U.S. Supreme Court – where one of Obama’s newly-appointed Justices helped craft the administration’s legal defense. In fact, there may have been an attempt to cover up the involvement of former U.S. Solicitor General Elena Kagan in this effort – although as a Supreme Court Justice she has thus far failed to recuse herself on any Obamacare-related rulings.
In late January, U.S. District Court Judge Roger Vinson struck down Obamacare in its entirety on the grounds that “Congress exceeded the bounds of its authority in passing the act with the individual mandate.”
“Because the individual mandate is unconstitutional and not severable, the entire Act must be declared void,” Vinson’s ruling concluded.
Prior to Vinson’s ruling, U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson also found the individual mandate unconstitutional.
“An individual’s personal decision to purchase – or decline purchase – (of) health insurance from a private provider is beyond the historical reach of the U.S. Constitution,” Hudson ruled last December. “No specifically constitutional authority exists to mandate the purchase of health insurance.”
Two other lower courts, however, have ruled that Congress had the right to impose the mandate as part of the $1 trillion (some say $2.5 trillion) plan.
The U.S. House of Representatives repealed Obamacare in January – although the legislation was blocked in the U.S. Senate.
Last March, the bill passed the U.S. House by a narrow 219-212 vote – with 178 Republicans and 34 Democrats voting against the bill.
After Obama signed the bill into law, Democrats vowed to undertake a massive educational and public relations campaign aimed at selling the American public on the benefits of the legislation. They didn’t … and health care data that’s been released over the past year hasn’t helped their cause (click here, here, here and here for a few examples of that).