The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, hearing the 26-state lawsuit against Obamacare (of which Wyoming is a part), ruled today that the individual mandate provision that everyone must purchase health insurance or pay a tax is unconstitutional. However, the court ruled that this provision is “severable,” or that the rest of Obamacare remains in place.
It’s nice when one’s worst fears are not realized. Two weeks ago, I discussed a potential snag that the Obamacare suits could run into on the road to the U.S. Supreme Court if the first courts of appeal to hear the case all upheld the law. With today’s ruling by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Florida v. Health and Human Services, the Supreme Court will not only have a very new and novel constitutional issue to grapple with, but will have two circuits (the Sixth and the Eleventh) that have drawn different conclusions, known as a “circuit split.”
In short, there is now no good reason why the Supreme Court will not hear one of the Obamacare challenges next term.
I will have commentary once the opinion is available and I’m able to read it through. Per usual, the court’s website is overwhelmed at the news and cannot be accessed.
UPDATE (1:23 P.M.): the opinion is over 300 pages, and has been re-posted on Scribd.
UPDATE #2 (2:54 P.M.): there has been some speculation that instead of appealing to the Supreme Court, the feds will instead request an “en banc” hearing. This means that instead of three judges, the entire 11th Circuit will get together and hear the case. I think the Department of Justice will definitely try this, but that it’s highly unlikely the 11th will go for it. Usually circuits do this when there’s a particularly odd or egregious decision made by their peers, and often one that might not be heard before the Supreme Court for some time (meaning it could be the law of the land in that circuit for a long time). Obamacare is almost definitely going to the Supreme Court in the near future, and I don’t think the 11th will want to play a part in delaying it.