The Obama Administration suffered a big loss and a big win in the same court ruling on August 11 regarding the constitutionality of the health care reform law.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in Atlanta, on a 2-1 vote, ruled unconstitutional the individual mandate to obtain health insurance. But the court also ruled the rest of the law is constitutional.

That's important because the Appeals Court reviewed a January decision by U.S. District Court Judge Roger Vinson in Florida that ruled the entire law unconstitutional. In declaring the individual mandate unconstitutional, he also ruled, with reluctance, that the mandate was not severable from the rest of the law because while the mandate was "necessary and essential" to the law as written, it is not "necessary and essential" to health care reform in general (see story).

In the Appeals Court ruling, one judge each appointed by Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton voted in the majority, with a Clinton appointee in the minority, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The ruling moves the issue of health reform constitutionality closer to resolution by the U.S. Supreme Court. In June, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in Cincinnati affirmed a U.S. District Court ruling in Michigan that the individual mandate is constitutional (see story). The Journal notes that a ruling is expected soon on two additional challenges to the law that the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., heard.

 

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