A federal appeals court ruled Friday that a provision in President Obama’s health care law requiring citizens to buy health insurance is unconstitutional, but didn’t strike down the rest of the law.
The decision is a major setback for the White House, which had appealed a ruling by a federal district judge who struck down the entire law in January. But given that other judges have upheld the law, this case is clearly headed to the Supreme Court, which will have the final say.
On Friday, the divided three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals sided with 26 states that filed a lawsuit to block Obama’s signature domestic initiative.The panel said that Congress exceeded its constitutional authority by requiring Americans to buy insurance or face penalties.
“This economic mandate represents a wholly novel and potentially unbounded assertion of congressional authority,” the panel said in the majority opinion.
“Small-business owners across the country have been vindicated by the 11th Circuit’s ruling that the individual mandate in the health-care law is unconstitutional,” said Karen Harned, executive director of the group’s legal center.
“The court reaffirmed what small businesses already knew – there are limits to Congress’ power. And the individual mandate, which compels every American to buy health insurance or pay a fine, is a bridge too far,” she said.