In one of the main legal challenges against the health care reform passed last year, the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Atlanta declared the law's "individual mandate" unconstitutional, calling it an "unprecedented exercise of congressional power." The 2-1 ruling constitutes the first time a Democrat-appointed judge has struck down the mandate. Federal judges have been weighing in on the bill's constitutionality for a while now and health care reporters and pundits are weighing in on where the ruling leaves the legislation.
This is headed for the Supreme Court. "If there was ever any doubt that the long-raging debate over the constitutionality of the federal health-care overhaul... would ultimately be settled by the U.S. Supreme Court, that doubt was all but extinguished today," writes Ashby Jones at The Wall Street Journal's Law Blog. Steve Benen at the Washington Monthly agrees: "With the 6th and 11th circuits in conflict, there is now no real doubt that the Supreme Court will have to hear the case. We can probably expect a ruling next June — about five months before the presidential election." In a moment of health care nerdiness, The New Republic's health care reporter Jonathan Cohn tweets "If you care about #obamacare, pro or con, don't make plans for next June -- and end of next year's Supreme Court term."