On Tuesday, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals became the third appellate court to uphold the individual mandate that all Americans buy health insurance — a critical part of President Obama's health care reform law. "ObamaCare" supporters see this as an especially important victory, as the majority opinion was written by Laurence Silberman, a conservative judge nominated by Ronald Reagan. The Supreme Court is expected to meet as soon as Thursday to decide whether to take up the issue next year. Is Silberman's unexpected ruling a fatal blow to "ObamaCare" foes?
This is a huge win for Obama: Silberman's opinion "is perhaps the most compelling defense" of the Affordable Care Act to date, and a "big get for the White House," says Adam Sorensen at TIME. Silberman flatly told the law's opponents, "I don't see anything in the Constitution that supports you." Though his "biting" ruling won't end the debate, favorable opinions from conservative jurists like Silberman should surely have the Obama administration "feeling confident that its signature legislative achievement will survive."
"In D.C. Circuit Court health reform ruling, a big get for the White House"
And Silberman's argument is dead on: The conservative judge states quite strongly that Congress has "broad powers over interstate commerce," says Jonathan Cohn at The New Republic. Silberman knows that Congress has the right to "forge national solutions to national problems" — the same rationale that let the federal government force restaurants to serve customers of all races applies to the individual mandate. So "while it's possible to faithfully read the Constitution as prohibiting the requirement that everybody pay for health care, doing so would require junking a bunch of important Supreme Court precedents." This is a strong argument — and a good omen for proponents of "ObamaCare."
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Opponents still stand a chance: I'm disappointed that Silberman upheld the individual mandate, says Jay Sekulow at the American Center for Law and Justice. Still, the three-judge panel's 2-1 decision confirms that "courts are split about this flawed health care law." I'm still "confident" that "ObamaCare" and its individual mandate "is the wrong prescription for America," and will be struck down by the Supreme Court.
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Everything is still up in the air: This appellate court "has no greater impact" on the Supreme Court's ultimate ruling than any of the other appellate courts that have already weighed in, says Rick Ungar at Forbes. Sure, many conservative intellectuals thought Silberman would brand the individual mandate illegal. He didn't. But that doesn't mean Supreme Court justices will follow suit. "Any guess as to how SCOTUS may ultimately decide this matter is pure speculation" — we simply won't know "until the moment the fat lady finally sings."
"D.C. Court of Appeals upholds Constitutionality of 'ObamaCare,' stuns conservatives"