The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit has ruled that it is constitutional for Congress to require all Americans buy health insurance. It's a critical court victory for the Obama Administration and the first appellate review of the landmark 2010 health reform law, notes the New York Times.
The ruling by the Cincinnati court is the first of three opinions to be delivered by separate courts of appeal that heard arguments in the health care litigation in May and June. Opinions are expected soon from panels in the Fourth Circuit in Richmond, Va., and the 11th Circuit in Atlanta.
The opinion was the first not to break down strictly along seemingly partisan lines. In the 2-to-1 ruling, a judge appointed by a Republican president joined one named by a Democrat to write the majority opinion.
In various cases at the lower District Court level, five judges have divided on the question, with three Democratic appointees backing the law and two Republican appointees rejecting it. As they look ahead to the Supreme Court, the law’s defenders can take encouragement from the concurring opinion written by Judge Jeffrey S. Sutton, an appointee of President George W. Bush, a Republican. Judge Sutton is typically considered conservative on questions of constitutional reach.
Lawyers on both sides of the case expect the Supreme Court to take one or more of the cases.
The Fourth Circuit case that was mentioned above is an appeal of the December 2010 ruling by a Bush appointee that ruled the individual mandate was unconstitutional. That case was filed by Tea Party darling and gay-obsessed Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli—who was roundly criticized for his opinion that the Commonwealth's public colleges and universities must abolish policies that protect gays and lesbians from discrimination.