Conservative Appeals Court Finds Obamacare Mandate Constitutional

Conservative Appeals Court Finds Obamacare Mandate Constitutional

The opinion, written by a popular conservative judge, may help to turn opponents of the legislation.

By far the most controversial provision within President Obama’s healthcare reform bill, The Affordable Care Act, is the so-called “individual mandate”. This mandate states that every person must have health insurance, or they will pay a tax penalty when it’s time to pony up to the government. The mandate, as well as other provisions of the ACA, have had lawsuits filed in circuit courts all over the country, and even as the Supreme Court readies itself to hear on some of the controversial findings, appeals courts are still processing decisions. One recent decisions on the individual mandate that may anger (or persuade) some conservatives recently came from the U.S. Court of Appeals for The District of Columbia, who found that the mandate was, indeed, constitutional.

The suit, which was brought by The American Center for Law and Justice, a legal group founded by evangelist Pat Robertson, accused the government of overstepping their authority on religious grounds, mandating American to buy health insurance even though many will not see a health professional, trusting their healthcare instead to God. Judge Laurence Silberman, a well-respected conservative and Reagan appointee, sits on the traditionally conservative appellate court. He also wrote the court’s opinion, stating that, “a direct requirement for most Americans to purchase any product or service seems an intrusive exercise of legislative power surely explains why Congress has not used this authority before – but that seems to us a political judgment rather than a recognition of constitutional limitations,” then adding, "The right to be free from federal regulation is not absolute and yields to the imperative that Congress be free to forge national solutions to national problems."

There is a startling precedent set in this decision. Conservatives riled by “Obamacare” and its individual mandate likely expected a different opinion, one which upheld limitations of government power, particularly where consumerism and the private sector are concerned. However, the court’s opinion seemed to do exactly the opposite, allowing for expanded potential of the federal government’s authority under the constitution, using the individual mandate as an “imperative” to “forge national solutions to national problems.” The hope of many supporters of the ACA is that this decision will both help to persuade opponents of the law, as well as to be indicative of the Supreme Court’s ultimate decision when they begin hearings on provisions of the law early next year. The Supreme Court, which has also been a decidedly conservative judicial body, may take some direction from the conservative-leaning D.C. Appeals Court.