As expected, on November 14, 2011, the United States Supreme Court
announced that it will hear arguments relating to various constitutional
challenges to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). A
decision will be issued before its term ends in June 2012, in the middle of a
Presidential election year.
The Court has agreed to review four questions that were raised in various lower court challenges to the PPACA:
- Individual Mandate: Did Congress exceed its authority under the Commerce Clause of the Constitution in requiring
that individuals maintain “minimum essential coverage” beginning in 2014, or pay a tax assessment
- Severability: If the individual mandate provision is nullified as unconstitutional, is it “severable” from the rest of the
legislation, or will some or all or the other PPACA provisions also be nullified?
- Anti-injunction Act: Are private individuals and states procedurally barred from challenging the
constitutionality of the individual mandate by the Anti-Injunction Act, which prohibits legal challenges to taxes until after the tax is collected?
- Medicaid: Did Congress exceed its constitutional authority in expanding the Medicaid program?
The justices will hear these cases, which encompass the questions above:
- National Federation of Independent Business, et al., v. Sebelius
- U.S. Dept of Health and Human Services, et al., v. Florida, et al.
- Florida, et al., v. HHS
They will not hear:
- Thomas More Law Center v. Obama
- Liberty University, et al., v. Geithner, et al.
- The sixth petition, Commonwealth of Virginia, et al., v. Sebelius, was not before the Justices.
Court Decides Individual Mandate Constitutional
In other recent news, in a 2-1 decision, on Tuesday, November 8, 2011, the
federal D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals held that the “individual mandate”
provision of the PPACA is constitutional. The decision is viewed as
significant not only because it is the third of four federal courts of appeal
to have upheld the individual mandate, but, as well, because a highly
regarded conservative judge wrote the opinion.