The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled today that President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul is within constitutional bounds, specifically in regard to the mandate that nearly all Americans buy health insurance.
The decision marks the first time a judge appointed by a Republican president upheld the insurance law. Judge Jeffrey Sutton was appointed by President George W. Bush.
Two of the three judges ruled in favor of the law and upheld a prior court’s ruling, further validating the federal government’s primary argument that the mandate falls within Congress’ power to regulate economic activity.
Challengers from the Thomas More Law Center argued that Congress was inappropriately using its interstate commerce power to regulate people who choose not to participate in the health insurance market.
One of the lead plaintiffs, Jann DeMars of Michigan, initially claimed she was being economically burdened by the prospect of having to buy insurance, but her argument drew a lot of skepticism after she revealed that she obtained employer-provided insurance this May.
“Congress had a rational basis for concluding that the minimum coverage provision is essential to the Affordable Care Act’s larger reforms to the national markets in health care delivery and health insurance,” Judge Boyce Martin, appointed by former President Jimmy Carter, wrote for the majority in the 2-1 ruling.
An attorney for Thomas More said the center plans to appeal the decision, the Associated Press reported. It could request a review by the full circuit court or go on the U.S. Supreme Court.
While the win is an important one for the insurance law, the administration’s not out of the woods yet. The Obama administration still has to deal with House Appropriations Committee legislation that declaws the insurance mandate by banning the federal government from enforcing the law.