Health Law Spotlight Moves To D.C. Appeals Court
News outlets covered the high-stakes hearing today, focusing on the political background of the judges.
The Associated Press: Appeals Court Hears Challenge To Health Care Law
A conservative-leaning panel of federal appellate judges raised concerns about President Barack Obama's health care overhaul Friday, but suggested the challenge to it may be premature. The arguments at the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington [D.C.] over a lawsuit against Obama's signature domestic legislative achievement focused on whether Congress overstepped its authority in requiring people to buy health insurance or pay a penalty on their taxes, beginning in 2014 (Sherman, 9/23).
Kaiser Health News: Religious Freedom, Individual Mandate And Anti-Injunction Act At Issue In D.C. Circuit
As soon as the government’s lawyer stood up to make her argument, [conversative judges Laurence Silberman and Brett Kavanaugh] pounced and they asked, in essence, “What are the limits on the federal government?” Judge Kavanaugh, he worried about an expansion of the Social Security net. And Judge Silberman, he asked “Well, could the government mandate you to buy a car?” And that brings in the Obama administration lawyer, she said that it’s not about forcing someone to buy a product, it’s about the financing of the product that every individual will need sometime in their life (De Vogue and Carey, 9/23).
The Wall Street Journal: Appeals Court Raises Concern Over Health Law
Both judges, however, indicated that they were grappling with previous Supreme Court opinions that granted Congress broad power to pass laws under its authority to regulate interstate commerce. Judges Kavanaugh and Silberman were both Republican appointees. Friday's proceedings suggest the legal debate surrounding the health-care law is becoming more complicated as judges read the opinions written by their colleagues on other courts (Kendall, 9/23).
Politico Pro: D.C. Court's Focus Could Delay Ruling
The case is just one of more than two dozen that have been filed against President Barack Obama’s signature health law. While at least one of the many suits appeared to be on its way to the Supreme Court before the mandate goes into effect in 2014, the circuit courts are now paying extra attention to the Anti-Injunction Act. The act says that Americans have to pay a tax before they can challenge it in court. It didn’t get much attention until earlier this month, when the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the act bars it from ruling on the case (Haberkorn, 9/23).
Bloomberg Businessweek: Obama Health-Care Law Gets Mixed Reaction From Appeals Court
Thus far, two federal appeals courts have ruled on the constitutionality of the insurance mandate. A Cincinnati panel in June found that Congress had the power to enact the insurance mandate through its constitutional authority to regulate interstate commerce. The U.S. Court of Appeals in Atlanta invalidated the insurance-purchasing mandate in an Aug. 12 ruling, concluding that Congress can’t compel people to buy a product for their entire lives. An appeals panel in Richmond, Virginia on Sept. 8 ruled that it couldn’t decide yet whether the measure is constitutional (Schoenberg, 9/23).
Related, from KHN: Scoreboard: Tracking Health Law Court Challenges
And, Ohio voters will face a different kind of challenge to the law.
Bloomberg: Ohio Joins States Letting Voters Weigh In On Obama's Health-Care Overhaul
Ohio voters on Nov. 8 will decide an amendment to their constitution aimed at undercutting the federal Affordable Care Act, joining four states that considered similar measures last year and four slated to vote next year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. ... The votes aimed at Obama's plan are "purely symbolic" because federal laws have supremacy over conflicting state measures, said Elizabeth Price Foley, a professor of constitutional and health-care law (Niquette, 9/23).