Appeals Court Rules Health Bill's 'Individual Mandate' Unconstitutional
2-1 ruling allows law to remain in effect despite legal challenges
In Atlanta, the Appeals Court for the 11th Circuit has ruled that the so-called "individual mandate" portion of President Obama's health care reform bill, which requires individuals to buy insurance or face a penalty, is unconstitutional, according to Reuters. The suit was brought by 26 governors and state attorney generals.
Politico characterizes the 2-1 ruling as "a striking blow to the legislation," noting that it "marks the first time a judge appointed by a Democrat has voted to strike down the mandate." The judge, Frank Hull, was appointed by Bill Clinton. In June, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a 2-1 ruling that upheld the constitutionality of the law. Politico notes that in that ruling, Jeffrey S. Sutton, a George W. Bush nominee, became the first Republican-nominated judge to rule in favor of upholding the individual mandate. The 4th Circuit also heard arguments challenging the law back in May, but hasn't ruled yet.
As Reuters points out, today's ruling "also ruled that the rest of the wide-ranging law could remain in effect" while subsequent legal challenges proceed. So the final decision is still likely to be made by the Supreme Court.