Federal appeals court urged to strike down health care reform law

[JURIST] Opponents of the health care reform law [text; JURIST news archive] filed a brief [text, PDF] Wednesday with the US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit [official website] requesting a three-judge panel uphold a lower court ruling that struck down the law as unconstitutional. Twenty-six states, led by Florida and the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) [association website], argue that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) violates the Commerce Clause [Cornell LII backgrounder] by requiring all Americans over the age of 18 to purchase individual health insurance plans by 2014. In the brief, the states argued that if the mandatory insurance provision is deemed unconstitutional, the entire law must be struck down as unconstitutional:

The mandate and related insurance regulations are the heart of a sprawling and complex legislative compromise, and there is no chance the Act—in anything resembling its current form—would have been enacted in their absence. The standard for non-severability is well established. After a court strikes a statute's unconstitutional provisions, the 'remaining provisions' must be invalidated where 'it is evident that the Legislature would not have enacted those provisions ... independently of that which is invalid'.
The Eleventh Circuit denied the petition for initial hearing en banc [JURIST report] in the appeal. The order confirmed that the appeal will nonetheless be expedited. The identities of the members of the three-judge panel will not be disclosed until at least 14 days before the arguments. Oral arguments are set to begin on June 8.

In April, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] filed a brief [text, PDF] with the Eleventh Circuit, arguing that the PPACA is constitutional. The DOJ argued [JURIST report] that the interstate health market can be regulated by Congress because it is fundamentally different from other markets due to the pervasive government involvement in health care spending. It also argued that the minimum coverage provision, which is the focus of the litigation, is constitutional because it regulates only economic activity, disputing the lower court's finding that failure to purchase health insurance could not be regulated as interstate commerce. In January, Judge Roger Vinson for the US District Court for the Northern District of Florida [official website] struck down [JURIST report] the mandate as unconstitutional.

 

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