Lifestyle & Belief

Obamacare constitutional, appeals court says


Dr. Jim Spears speaks with a patient who does not have health coverage at the Al Hirschfeld Free Health Clinic in New York City on March 23, 2011.


Spencer Platt

President Barack Obama’s health care law, which requires that all Americans buy health care insurance, is constitutional, a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia said today.

The American Center for Law and Justice, a legal group founded by evangelist Pat Robertson, had argued in a lawsuit that the insurance requirement is unconstitutional because it violates the religious freedom of those who choose not to have insurance because they believe God will protect them, the Associated Press reported. Americans who don’t have health insurance will have to pay a penalty on their taxes starting in 2014.

“It certainly is an encroachment on individual liberty, but it is no more so than a command that restaurants or hotels are obliged to serve all customers regardless of race ... or that a farmer cannot grow enough wheat to support his own family," Judge Laurence Silberman wrote in the majority opinion, Reuters reported. "The right to be free from federal regulation is not absolute, and yields to the imperative that Congress be free to forge national solutions to national problems."

According to Politico:

The D.C. Circuit Court is the fourth appeals panel to consider a lawsuit challenging the health reform law. The 6th Circuit upheld the law, the 11th Circuit struck the mandate and the 4th Circuit ruled that the Anti-Injunction Act — which says Americans have to pay a tax before they can challenge it in court — barred it from ruling on the mandate until at least 2014.

The Supreme Court may decide this week to resolve the conflicting rulings on Obamacare by taking up the issue this term, the AP reports.

"We're confident that, like today, we will prevail," Stephanie Cutter, assistant to Obama and his deputy senior adviser, said in a statement, Reuters reported. "People who make a decision to forego health insurance do not opt out of the health care market. Their action is not felt by themselves alone.”

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