DC Circuit Court of Appeals Upholds PPACA
The PPACA now has a 3-1 record in US appeals courts.
A three-judge panel on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals — comprised of two judges appointed by Republican presidents and one by a Democrat — upheld the constitutionality of a key section of President Obama’s health care law in a ruling released Tuesday.
Senior Judge Laurence Silberman and Judge Harry Edwards ruled to uphold the law — specifically the mandate that requires Americans to purchase health insurance — on the merits. Judge Brett Kavanaugh dissented from their ruling, but he, too, would have ruled against the plaintiffs seeking to overturn the mandate. His opinion argued that federal courts lack jurisdiction to enjoin the mandate, which functions similarly to a tax.
Silberman, a conservative all-star, was first nominated to the D.C. Circuit by Ronald Reagan, and became a senior judge when Kavanaugh — a George W. Bush nominee — was confirmed to the court. Edwards was nominated by Jimmy Carter.
In their opinion, Silberman and Edwards conclude that penalizing individuals for failing to obtain health insurance is within Congress’ powers under the Constitution’s Commerce Clause.
It is worth nothing that DC circuit court is arguably the most important of the US appeals courts (at least those inferior to SCOTUS). This was an affirmation of the lower court’s ruling, which had upheld the constitutionality of the PPACA.
More from the LAT: In a surprise, D.C. appeals court upholds healthcare law
Giving a surprise boost to the new healthcare law, one of the nation’s most closely watched federal courts ruled Tuesday that law’s requirement that most Americans get health insurance is constitutional.
The split opinion by the conservative-leaning U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia marks the second time this year that a federal appellate court controlled by Republican appointees has backed the law and its insurance mandate
And though the ruling has little practical impact, it comes just as the U.S. Supreme Court begins considering the constitutionality of the landmark legislation that President Obama signed last year.
In terms of the appellate court scorecard:
With the opinion, three federal appellate courts – in Washington, in Richmond, Va., and in Cincinnati, have now rejected substantive challenges to the healthcare law. Only the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Atlanta backed such a challenge.
In regards to the author of the opinion:
One of the GOP appointees–Judge Laurence H. Silberman–was appointed to the bench by President Reagan and is considered a conservative intellectual leader on the court. He won plaudits from gun rights groups recently for writing an opinion that the District of Columbia’s handgun ban was unconstitutional.
But in a concise majority opinion in the healthcare case, Silberman categorically rejected the central critique Republican attack on the healthcare law’s expansion of federal regulation of healthcare.
Interesting, the dissenting judge based his position not on the substance of the case, but on the notion that he could not review the law until after it had actually gone into force in 2014.