11th Circuit Court strikes a blow for liberty and against ObamaCare

Posted by: Phineas on August 12, 2011 at 6:01 pm

**Posted by Phineas

The court in a 2-1 ruling (and in an opinion written by a Clinton appointee) declared the individual mandate portion of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act unconstitutional because it sets no limits to Congress’ reach:

“Ultimately, the government’s struggle to articulate cognizable, judicially administrable limiting principles only reiterates the conclusion we reach today: there are none,” the court wrote.

The government had tried to make a series of fact-based arguments for why health care is unique, but that failed to sway the court, concluding that future Congresses could make all sorts of arguments as to why any given “unique.”

“Presumably, a future Congress similarly would be able to articulate a unique problem requiring a legislative fix that entailed compelling Americans to purchase a certain product from a private company,” the opinion reads. “The government apparently seeks to set the terms of the limiting principles courts should apply, and then asks that we defer to Congress’s judgment about whether those conditions have been met.”

The judges write that, “The government’s five factual elements of ‘uniqueness,’ proposed as constitutional limiting principles, are nowhere to be found in Supreme Court precedent. Rather, they are ad hoc, devoid of constitutional substance, incapable of judicial administration—and, consequently, illusory. The government’s fact- based criteria would lead to expansive involvement by the courts in congressional legislation, requiring us to sit in judgment over when the situation is serious enough to justify an economic mandate.”

Later on, the court reiterates that: “We have not found any generally applicable, judicially enforceable limiting principle that would permit us to uphold the mandate without obliterating the boundaries inherent in the system of enumerated congressional powers. ‘Uniqueness’ is not a constitutional principle in any antecedent Supreme Court decision.”

And the judges add that “the difficulties posed by the insurance market and health care cannot justify extra-constitutional legislation.”

Though the district judge whose case was under appeal here had voided the whole of ObamaCare, in his article, Philip Klein points out that the majority struck down only the individual mandate and left the rest of the structure intact. Klein speculates that this actually works in favor of the opposition, because, by constructing their decision narrowly and relying on a lack of Supreme Court precedents upholding the government’s argument, this may —may— be persuasive to moderate Justice Kennedy, since it frames leaving the mandate in place as the more radical decision.

And if the individual mandate is struck down, the rest of the act becomes untenable and vulnerable to repeal.

Regardless, we are almost now guaranteed a showdown in the Supreme Court, probably just as the 2012 election campaign hits high gear, since the 11th Circuit’s decision contradicts that of the 6th Circuit, which upheld the law. In situations like that, the Court almost always intervenes. Stay tuned…

Meanwhile, this is great news for fans of individual liberty, limited government, federalism, and a health-care policy that doesn’t amount to national economic suicide.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

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4 Responses to “11th Circuit Court strikes a blow for liberty and against ObamaCare”


  1. Carlos says:

    Many years ago we already had an effective, cost-controlled health care system. It was called “free enterprise” with some modifications for safety.

    Then the lawyers and bureaucraps (the same, in many cases) got hold of it, whispered sweet lies to a sleeping public and voila, an out-of-control system more concerned about bottom line and guvmint regulation than in completing their theoretical mission which is to deliver the best health care possible at the most reasonable cost.

    When government regulates everything down to and including what kind of sterile gloves one can use, it’s time to get a different government.

  2. Kate says:

    One small step to the taking down of Obamacare. Let’s hope that the legislature can defund and void the damage and cost of such a centralized system.

    There is no “perfect” way to deal with any kind of need in society and the uptopian idea that the government can handle it has been proven to be economically unfeasible and the level of care will fall to levels that Americans do not want to believe. If they would check recent history they will note how the Soviet Union handled the whole affair. If you went to the hospital (if you could afford to) you also had to bring your own food and in some cases linens and common medicines. Round the clock nursing care did not exist, so bring a relative to watch you over night. That is,of course, unless you were one of the party elites.

  3. Carlos says:

    Typical big-government thinking: Way back when, when I became a building inspector (a few lifetimes ago) the “rule book” was about 1-1/2 inches thick, 5″ x 7″ pages, and it covered both commercial and residential building.

    Now, there are just for residential THREE books, about the same thickness, 8-1/2″ x 11″! And there are separate books for the commercial code on top of that!

    What they are trying to do is legislate (rule-make) for any contingency, any situation. You know and I know that that simply cannot be done.

    But try telling that to dear leader. Or his administration. Or even to probably 500 of the 535 elected congresscritters we are stuck with through ignorance, indifference or even malicious intent.

  4. Lorica says:

    Obama is losing in court all over the place. Another Fed court struck down the Barry’s EPA regulations regarding oil and gas drilling.


    I couldn’t be happier that this administration is being proved in court to be the bunch of extremists. – Lorica