Florida, 25 Other States, and the NFIB
Northern District of Florida *States as Plaintiffs*
Attorneys General representing the 26 states of Arizona, Indiana, Mississippi, Nevada, North Dakota, Alabama, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Louisiana, Michigan, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington, Georgia, Alaska, and as of January 19, Ohio, Wisconsin, Kansas, Maine, Iowa, and Wyoming. Also, the National Federation of Independent Business and two individuals, Mary Brown and Kaj Ahlburg.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
The Plaintiffs challenge the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act based on its inclusion of the individual health insurance mandate, stating that Congress exceeds its authority by controlling the budgetary process and legislative agendas of the plaintiff states, thereby forcing them to assume sole responsibility of exorbitant costs of the new Act. Plaintiffs claim the federal government has no authority under the Commerce Clause on the Taxing and Spending Clause in Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution. The Complaint cites sections 2 and 9 of Article I, and states that the federal government cannot use the mandate as a means to impose a direct tax. Also, the Plaintiffs argue that the PPACA violates the Tenth Amendment, noting that a mandate that forces individuals to either have health insurance coverage or pay a penalty is unconstitutional. Because the Plaintiffs in this case are states, they are especially concerned with the top-down unfunded mandates that impose increased conditions on states participating in federal programs from which withdrawal is not practical, rather than to engage in voluntary federal-state partnerships. States where Medicare is already stretching the annual budget, such as Florida, simply cannot afford the increased costs attributable to the new requirements imposed by PPACA .
Status: Judge Roger Vinson heard a Motion to Dismiss on September 14, 2010. He ruled on October 14 to allow the case to continue, stating that the complaint's two most important counts for the individual Plaintiffs, the first and second, had standing. Furthermore, the decision allows the state Plaintiffs to pursue count six. Also, Vinson denied the Defendants their argument that the Individual Mandate is a tax and is valid under the Tax-Clause of Article 1, Section 8, Clause 1 of the U.S. Constitution. On November 4, both parties filed their Motion for Summary Judgment and a date was set for a hearing and oral arguments based solely on the merits of each side. This hearing occurred on December 16.
On January 31, 2011, Vinson ruled that the individual mandate is unconstitutional and unseverable from the rest of the law. Therefore, he wrote, the entire law must be void.
The Defendants filed a Motion to Clarify, seeking further explanation from Vinson about his latest ruling. In his January 31 opinion, Vinsion wrote that his declaratory judgment carried the same weight as an injunction against the law's implementation, but he stopped short of actually issuing an injunction. In his answer to the Motion to Clarify, Vinson reiterated that the entire law was unconstitutional, and that it was in the best interest of all parties to move this case more quickly toward the Supreme Court, where an ultimate decision on the health law will likely be made. He issued a stay on his own January 31 opinion, and gave the Defendants seven days to file for an appeal, which they did.
On June 8, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in this case. On August 12, the three-judge panel ruled 2-1 that the individual mandate provision of the law was unconstitutional, but that the rest of the law can stand. The federal government had 90 days to appeal, either for an en banc hearing or directly to the Supreme Court.
The DOJ did not seek an en banc trial.
Three cert petitions came from this case (scroll down for PDF files below):
NAT. FED'N INDEP. BUSINESS V. SEBELIUS, SEC. OF H&HS, ET AL.
FLORIDA, ET AL. V. DEPT. OF H&HS, ET AL.
DEPT. OF H&HS, ET AL. V. FLORIDA, ET AL.
The Supreme Court announced on Monday, Nov. 16, 2011 that it would take up questions from this case. Oral arguments are expected to be heard February or March 2011, with a ruling in late June.
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