The Sixth U.S. Court of Appeals in Cincinnati ruled Wednesday that the new U.S. health care law's mandate that everyone purchase insurance is constitutional, handing the Obama administration a victory.
The decision is significant for two reasons: this is the first time an appelate court has ruled on the law, and the decision also marked the first time that a judge appointed by a Republican president voted to uphold the law. Prior challenges to the law had broken down along partisan fault lines, with Democratic appointees voting to uphold Obama's signature domestic law and Republicans voting against it, leading some oberservers to question the impartiality of the judicial review process.
We find that the minimum coverage provision is a valid exercise of legislative power by Congress under the Commerce Clause, the judges said in rejecting a challenge to the law. The administration had similarly held that the law was within Congress' authority to regulate interstate commerce, because some people refusing to buy insurance would drive up costs for others.
The Thomas More Law Center and four Michigan residents brought the lawsuit, contending that the individual insurance mandate was unconstitutional. The law is facing multiple legal challenges, one of which is widely expected to reach the U.S. Supreme Court.
Throughout history, there have been similar challenges to other landmark legislation such as the Social Security Act, the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act, and all of those challenges failed, U.S. Justice Department Spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler said. We believe these challenges to health reform will also fail.