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.FULL STORY
[Updated at 10:28 p.m.] The fight over the health care reform law ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge on Monday will eventually be decided by the Supreme Court, said CNN senior legal analyst Jeff Toobin.
"This Supreme Court is very evenly divided between liberals and conservatives. Anthony Kennedy tends to be the swing vote. I would not be at all surprised that he would be the swing vote in this case as well," Toobin said.
"When you consider that this is the signature achievement of the Obama administration, and that it is hanging by a legal thread right now, it's a cause of great concern to supporters of the law."
Because the Florida judge ruled that the individual mandate, the part of the law that says everyone has to buy health insurance, is unconstitutional, “he says the whole law has to go out the window,” Toobin said.
Toobin said it is important to note that several federal judges have found the law constitutional.
"This is why we have a United States Supreme Court, to settle when judges disagree with each other," Toobin said.
The nine justices "have the last word," Toobin said. "Nobody can tell them what to do or when to do it."
[Updated at 5:37 p.m.] The U.S. Department of Justice says it plans to appeal the ruling of a federal judge in Florida, who earlier today struck down as unconstitutional key parts of the sweeping health care reform bill championed by President Obama.
[Updated at 3:47 p.m.] A federal judge in Florida has ruled unconstitutional the sweeping health care reform law championed by President Barack Obama, setting up what is likely to be a contentious Supreme Court challenge in coming months over the legislation.
Monday's ruling came in the most closely watched of the two dozen challenges to the law. Florida along with 25 states had filed a lawsuit last spring, seeking to dismiss a law critics had labeled "Obamacare."
Judge Roger Vinson, in a 78-page ruling, dismissed the key provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act - the so-called "individual mandate" requiring most Americans to purchase health insurance by 2014 or face
"I must reluctantly conclude that Congress exceeded the bounds of its authority in passing the Act with the individual mandate. That is not to say, of course, that Congress is without power to address the problems and
Inequities in our health care system," Vinson wrote.
"Because the individual mandate is unconstitutional and not severable, the entire Act must be declared void. This has been a difficult decision to reach, and I am aware that it will have indeterminable implications. At a time
when there is virtually unanimous agreement that health care reform is needed in this country, it is hard to invalidate and strike down a statute titled 'The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.' "
Review of Obama's speech - If you missed President Barack Obama's speech to the nation Tuesday night, here's a full transcript and video. The president touched on many familiar themes, and CNN's iReporters tried to sum up all his points in a single tweet.
How about the "economy"? Obama said it's headed in the right direction but the country's priorities should change, especially when it comes to spending. The president called for increasing investments in key areas such as education and clean energy, but he also wants to make reductions in spending to help get America's deficit under control and proposed a five-year domestic spending freeze.
During another portion of the speech, he highlighted a small-business owner, describing the man's story as a symbol of the American dream. Obama also spoke of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who is recovering from a gunshot wound to the head after a gunman's rampage at a political meet-and-greet this month in Tucson, Arizona. The congresswoman's name was met with applause.
On Wednesday, the president will take his message on the road, discussing opportunities for job growth in clean energy during a stop in Wisconsin.
As the House of Representatives prepare to vote on health care reform repeal today, President Obama has released a statement signaling that he is willing to make improvements on the bill but is not in favor of a full repeal:
"So I’m willing and eager to work with both Democrats and Republicans to improve the Affordable Care Act," Obama said. "But we can’t go backward."
But congressmen on Capitol Hill like Representative Ron Paul (R-Texas) believe that repeal is the only option. He told CNN American Morning's Kiran Chetry that the bill going to vote today "tells us what we should do in the future."
Paul is also unhappy with the way we are treating our relationship with China. He says that more government intervention in China is not the answer and "we can't blame China for us spending too much money."
Watch his complete interview:
House to debate health care repeal - Floor debate over whether to quash health care reform kicks off Tuesday in the House of Representatives. Lawmakers are expected to vote this week. The measure likely will pass the Republican-led House but is believed to have little chance of clearing the Democratic-controlled Senate or surviving a presidential veto.
Republicans acknowledge it's an uphill battle to achieve an outright repeal, but they suggest they'll attempt to defund portions of the measure or eliminate specific provisions of the law in the months ahead. A few key Democrats said Sunday they might cooperate in getting rid of certain measures that pertain to business. But legislation repealing the health care overhaul won't be cheap. It will add $230 billion to the federal debt by 2021, according to an analysis by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.
The House of Representatives begins debate this morning on H.R. 2 or as its named, "Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act." co-sponsored by Representative Steve King, a republican from Iowa and Representative Michele Bachmann, a republican from Minnesota.
The bill's goal is to repeal President Obama's health care reform legislation of last year. But with President Obama still in office and sure to veto any legislation the bill seems largely a symbolic effort.
Even among the public, a new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll out this morning shows that Obama's approval rating is up five points since last month and support for repealing isn't overwhelming.
Before the debate begins, Rep. Steve King joins T.J. Holmes on American Morning defending the bill and saying the effort is all in hopes of electing a new president in 2012.
A Virginia federal judge on Monday found a key part of President Barack Obama's sweeping health care reform law unconstitutional - setting the stage for a protracted legal struggle likely to wind up in the Supreme Court.
U.S. District Court Judge Henry Hudson struck down the "individual mandate" requiring most Americans to purchase health insurance by 2014. The Justice Department is expected to challenge the judge's findings in a federal appeals court.
Hudson's opinion contradicts other court rulings finding the mandate constitutionally permissible.FULL STORY
The Congressional Budget Office has doubled the estimated increases of some costs resulting from the sweeping health care reform legislation passed this year.