August 12th, 2011
01:19 PM ET

Parts of health care law ruled unconstitutional

A federal appeals court has tossed out key provisions of the sweeping healthcare reform bill championed by President Obama, setting up a likely election-year showdown at the Supreme Court over the landmark legislation.

A divided 2-1 panel of the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Atlanta on Friday found the law's "individual mandate" section, requiring nearly all Americans to purchase health insurance by 2014 or face financial penalties - was an improper exercise of federal authority.

"The individual mandate exceeds Congress's enumerated commerce power and is unconstitutional," wrote Chief Judge Joel Dubina. "This economic mandate represents a wholly novel and potentially unbounded assertion of congressional authority: the ability to compel Americans to purchase an expensive health insurance product they have elected not to buy, and to make them re-purchase that insurance product every month for their entire lives."

Significantly, the court concluded even though that key section to be unconstitutional, the entire law need not be set aside. In fact, the judges said law's expansion of the federal Medicaid program was constitutional, since states - which administer it - would not bear "the costs of the program's amplified enrollments."

This appeal resulted from in a massive lawsuit brought by Florida and 25 other states opposing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

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Filed under: Health • Health Care • Health care reform
soundoff (302 Responses)
  1. Cali

    hmmm another conservative judge rules against. no new news here, just wait until the supreme court chimes in.

    August 12, 2011 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • US Citizen

      Isn't a Federal Appeals Court higher than the Supreme Court??? Really, I am asking.

      August 12, 2011 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • AndrewsAFB

      This is just a waste of time and Tax money from another Bush appointed judge no doubt.

      August 12, 2011 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Henry

      'Isn't a Federal Appeals Court higher than the Supreme Court??? Really, I am asking.'

      *facepalm*

      August 12, 2011 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • frank

      mmm – another liberal spending someone else's money.

      August 12, 2011 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Smiling Jim

      Here's a hint. Try to think of anything that's higher than "Supreme"...nope, nothing, right? Yes. Supreme is the tippity top top of all the federal courts, circuit, appeal or otherwise. Hope that helped clear things up. (PS> If you are looking for another clue, ask yourself this... would the teeny weeny little court house in Atlanta be higher up than the great big statue-covered courthouse in Washington DC? Probably only in one of those conjecture / fantasy books where the south won the civil war).

      August 12, 2011 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Smiling Jim

      @ frank. Another conservative making stuff up. Here's a REAL FACT for you. 8 of the top 10 net contributors of money to the federal govt are BLUE STATES (depending on the election year that could 9 out of 10), that means that they give more $ to the federal govt than they take. All of the top 10 recipient states who RECEIVE more money from the federal govt than they pay in federal taxes are RED STATES. I know, this is beyond ironic. Please look up "Net contributors" in the dictionary if you don't understand this really complex concept.

      August 12, 2011 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Smiling Jim

      @ frank. Again. "cos I'm enjoying this too much. I paid $75,000 in federal and state taxes last year. That's probably more than your total income. See, Frank, I have noticed that the people who are actually paying for all this nonsense (like me) are not the ones noisily complaining about it and going on marches (we're too busy working to earn money). Its the great unwashed peasantry like yourself who probably barely pay a dime who seem so upset here. Still, I appreciate your conern for my welfare. I'll think long and hard about it on my way to the Hamptons this weekend. How's that for a deal for you?

      August 12, 2011 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Bellabiv Devot

    If Obamacare would go away there would be a lot more hiring in this country.

    I wish Obama would have made jobs his "main focus" instead of giving us the expensive Obamacare that doesn't even ensure everyone has coverage.

    August 12, 2011 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • MarknArk

      I wish Obama would just go away, you know, fade away into the sunset NEVER to return!

      August 12, 2011 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Alison

      Please explain how that one teeny tiny thing will make jobs just appear out of thin air?

      August 12, 2011 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cali

      and how exactly the the new health care law inhibiting hiring exactly? im pretty sure all you have is Faux News talking points and can't point to any real study or economist opinion that has directly linked the new health care law to the jobs problems. seeing as how the health care industry has been growing steadily over the last 20 years...

      August 12, 2011 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • SteveInDenver

      Please explain to me how repealing ACA would create jobs. Jobs for undertakers working on the 40k people who die every year because of lack of health insurance?

      August 12, 2011 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Matt

      You are an indiot! Just how would hiring happen again if Obama care went away?

      August 12, 2011 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Spuds Mackenzie

      Could you please explain how we would have more jobs? I think everyone would like to know.

      August 12, 2011 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Smiling Jim

      I agree. Poor people don't deserve health care, they are fat and lazy and I need a tax cut so I can stimulate the economy by buying more stuff. Just because every other country in the western world has universal health-care, doesn't mean we should! Let's give the economy a boost by not throwing good money after bad caring for useless under-educated wasters. let's put the money back in our pockets so we can buy more stuff. awesome!

      August 12, 2011 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • ProGrowthInVA

      Amen to that!! Companies are scared to death to hire for this reason alone. We need pro-growth policies and the jobs will be back in a flash. Let's give corporations better terms to run their businesses here instead of taking our jobs overseas. It's not rocket science.

      August 12, 2011 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • ProGrowthInVA

      @Smiling Jim.....I really hope you or some of your close relatives are some of the healthy folks on individual health plans. I hope this because you think so much of this legislation now, I want to see what you think of it when all of the healthy people's individual healthcare rates DOUBLE to subsidize the previously uninsurable who will now be guaranteed coverage regardless of how much of a health trainwreck they are. The idea of giving everyone coverage is great, the cost of doing so is UNSUSTAINABLE (at least to the extent that you should expect the same level of care then as now). Just ask Massachussetts, their health plan is a total failure and bankrupt without Federal assistance. Who is going to subsidize the Federal Government when their plan fails? You and I with higher taxes. That's who. People won't be able to spend those dollars in the economy, more jobs lost, higher unemployment, etc.

      August 12, 2011 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      Smiling Jim: You don't agree. I say that because what you said is not being said by anyone in the debate - there is no one to agree with. This is just a caricature of the position opposing Obamacare. In reality, the opponents (myself included) want people to have good health care at affordable prices. We oppose Obamacare because it will not accomplish this,

      August 12, 2011 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
  3. May

    Now let's get them to rule on his birth certificate !

    August 12, 2011 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Alison

      You can't be serious...

      August 12, 2011 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Marilyn

      The birth certificate issue is another example of racist head in the sand comment. Whatever the president does will be criticized by opponets. The state of Hawaii is questionable????? No other president has been treated like President Obama. Disrespect for the office is okay now. One other thought. When binLaden was killed, every right winger wanted to give credit to President Bush. Why don't right wingers give Bush credit for leaving such a mess of the economy? Also, why aren't republicans upset with corporations taking American jobs overseas? It is inconceivalbe that it is fine for American companies to continue to ship AMERICAN jobs out and still go along with republicans who say it is fine. That is free enterprise. Free enterprise means Americans do no need work., unless you go to China, Phillipines,or India. There are plenty of American jobs there. Hello republicans, you are so UnAmerican by being used by a few rich who dupes middle class Americans that it is fine for American jobs to go off-shore. Please tell me I'm wrong. How do you feel/how would you feel when you go into work and lean your division is going to India in 3 months???? That is the answer Speaker Boener knows and plays games asking. Americans need to work in America. Stop being fooled by the republicans who are in full support for off-shoring American jobs because Americans need a living wage.

      August 12, 2011 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • J2

      @ May

      Google "Background Check".

      Then re-read my post again and again.

      After you've done this about fifty times I want you to Google "Security Clearance."

      When you've done that, you can read this next line:

      "Welcome to enlightenment."

      August 13, 2011 at 8:07 am | Report abuse |
  4. merchgirl1

    MORONS- figures it happened in Atlanta- but I would like to know which parts-

    August 12, 2011 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse |
  5. ?

    That's some article. Good work again CNN. To those of you who think the health care bill is "communism" I suggest you buy a dictionary and I would also hope you don't plan on drawing from Medicare/Medicaid or SOCIAL security.

    August 12, 2011 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Greg

    @Tom

    "In Obama's war on America, America has won! America has won! America has won! The center has held! The center has held! The center has held!"

    It's not a sport, guy. It's a team effort. We try things, put out ideas. We decide if it works or not. If so, move forward. If not, call it out and fix it. There's no winning, just moving along together.

    August 12, 2011 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hound

      Curious....Wouldn't a "team effort" suggest a "sport"?

      August 12, 2011 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • ?

      Well said. I would add that the fighting coming from both sides stems from the fact that we ALL want the country to do well. Anyone who chooses failure is a traitor and is working against the greater good. We argue BECAUSE we care not out of childish spite. I fear many just want disaster.

      August 12, 2011 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Alison

      To ?, remember when Rush Limbaugh said he wants the country to fail to make Obama look bad? Nice, isn't it?

      August 12, 2011 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
  7. jascha

    Wow CNN, don't overload us with details or anything... sheesh. You could have just tweeted this.

    August 12, 2011 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
  8. AGallon

    Thank you, aquart. That should do it. They'll be out in droves now, thanks to you. By the way, you really ought to be more prudent in giving medical advice. I understand that if an election lasts longer than 4 hours, one should see a doctor.

    August 12, 2011 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Steve

    Good.
    Stop telling my a$$ what to do!!!

    August 12, 2011 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • SteveInDenver

      The only people being told what to do are those who can afford health insurance but choose to abuse the rest of us and use emergency rooms, then declare bankruptcy when a major bill comes in. That drives up the cost to us, the honorable people who buy insurance. If you are a low life living off the system, the individual mandate is just the ticket.

      August 12, 2011 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Alison

      Using an emergency room is abuse?

      Don't you think it's awful that people are forced to declare bankruptcy when a major medical bill comes in? Allow citizens to be ruined financially because their appendix bursts and you are letting your nation down.

      August 12, 2011 at 1:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Robert

      Allison, You're right, it's criminal that people declare bankruptcy over medical bills and it needs to be fixed. Obamacare does NOT fix the problem, it simply treats a symptom, but the problem will continue to grow until it overtakes the "fix"

      August 12, 2011 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Reg

    Thank goodness, stop the socialist madness!

    August 12, 2011 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • ?

      I'll call your bluff. I want social security abolished and I want every dime I've had "taken" from me back with interest.

      August 12, 2011 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Robert

      SWEET Idea "?" I'd gladly take all my money in a lump sum so that I can invest it and grow it at 2-3x the value I'd ever see from social Security! Where do I sign up for that plan?

      August 12, 2011 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Allen

    A very good decision. I do not want to live in a socialist democracy. To many people are looking for a hand out these days. The Democratic party is made up of them. This is how they get elected. They promise to take from one group and give it to another. If you vote for Democrats you should be ashamed of yourself.

    August 12, 2011 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Alison

      Yeah, it's a terrible thing when everyone can afford to go to a hospital when they get sick. Just awful!

      August 12, 2011 at 1:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • SteveInDenver

      You already live in a socialist democracy. Medicare, Social Security, highways, military, police, fire. All socialist services that make this a better place to live. Somolia doesn't have any of these things, and no pesky regulations. You see what a thriving, affluent place that is.

      August 12, 2011 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Jimmy

    Obama is totally unqualified for the job he holds. It is a joke that he was elected in the first place.

    August 12, 2011 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Ninja

    This is some hard hitting stuff...really solid reporting. In any case, as someone who is 23, unemployed, with a chronic vein condition that prevents me from working any job for more than 4 hours before I have to lie down or pass out, I just want to say a big UP YOURS to the Republican hacks who would rather let me starve and die with no job and no insurance coverage than pay one penny in additional taxes. You people make me sick, claiming to be so patriotic when you outright refuse to participate in American society when real people are affected by your greed.

    August 12, 2011 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Iheartobama

      Maybe you should move to Cuba or Canada with their wonderful national health care system.

      August 12, 2011 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Alison

      Amen, Ninja. I feel for you.

      August 12, 2011 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • J2

      @ Iheartobama

      Maybe you should start being American, which, last time I checked was about helping your neighbor out.

      August 12, 2011 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      J2: "Helping your neighbor out" does not mean having the government take over and dictating how things must be done. Ninja: The Republicans would not rather let you starve and die with no job and no insurance coverage than pay one penny in additional taxes.

      August 12, 2011 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • J2

      @ Bob

      How is the government taking over? Are you SERIOUS? You can't possibly be serious about that statement.

      August 13, 2011 at 8:08 am | Report abuse |
  14. AndrewsAFB

    Is Tom alright? What can else can you expect out of GA. Maybe they can break away from the UNION along with TX.and AZ! Trust me, we'd be much better off without these idiots. No offense to the reasonable and hard working folk in either of these states, unfortunately for them they are in the minority.

    August 12, 2011 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Louie D.

    In other news: CNN streamlined McNews (TM) today when they posted a one-sentence article about a major court decision.

    August 12, 2011 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
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