11th Circuit Strikes Down Individual Mandate, 9th Dismisses Case

August 12th, 2011

In a good news-bad news type day for lawyers challenging the individual mandate provision of ObamaCare, the 11th circuit court in Atlanta ruled the provision unconstitutional by a 2-1 margain, while the 9th circuit court in San Francisco dismissed the case for lack of standing, even though it agreed to hear the case.

In the 11th, the judges presiding ruled that the individual mandate was unconstitutional because it represented a broad interpretation of the Commerce Clause of the Constitution, which is the clause that gives Congress the power to keep commerce regular. The individual mandate, though, is an “unbounded assertion of congressional authority” inconsistent with that clause, which would require individuals to purchase health insurance for fear of penalty. The two judges that ruled in the majority were Judge Joel Dubina, a George H.W. Bush appointee, and Judge Frank Hull, a Bill Clinton appointee.

The 9th circuit, however, was a different matter entirely. The case was dismissed due to “lack of standing” on the part of the prosecutors, with Judge Dana Sabraw handing down the decision. This came after the case was turned down by the Supreme Court for expediated judgement. This ruling was not a shock to many people due to the left-leaning nature of this branch, which has often been called the “Nutty Ninth” for those reasons.

So far, three branches of the US Court of Appeals have ruled on the individual mandate, and only the 11th ruled it unconstitutional thus far. The third branch, the 6th up in Ohio, upheld it by a 2-1 vote, which would all but ensure that the fate of the individual mandate will not be decided until it reaches the Supreme Court once it is done working its way through the lower courts.

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