D.C. Circuit Upholds the Mandate


By Hadley Heath

Today the D.C. Circuit Court ruled that ObamaCare's individual mandate is a Constitutional exercise of Congress's power.  Read the ruling here.

Here are some reactions from legal scholars:

Randy Barnett, Professor of Legal Theory, Georgetown Law:

"In yet another divided decision, the Court of Appeals demonstrates why the stakes of these challenges are so high. Like the government, the majority could identify no limit to an unprecedented power of Congress to mandate "that any American purchase any product or service in interstate commerce."  The Supreme Court will now have to face the question of whether the federal government is one of limited and enumerated powers or is instead a government of unlimited power "to forge national solutions to national problems, no matter how local–or seemingly passive–their individual origins."

Ilya Shapiro, Senior Fellow in Constitutional Law Studies, Cato Institute:

"Every development in the Obamacare litigation has been anticlimactic since the Eleventh Circuit split with the Sixth, guaranteeing that the Supreme Court would take the case.  Today’s ruling by the D.C. Circuit, therefore, is notable not so much for its result—upholding the individual mandate—but for the reluctance with which it reached it.  After acknowledging the novelty of the power Congress is asserting, the court expressed concern at 'the Government’s failure to advance any clear doctrinal principles limiting congressional mandates that any American purchase any product or service in interstate commerce.'  In other words, the majority saw itself bound by the Supreme Court’s broad reading of federal power under the Commerce Clause but felt “discomfort” at reaching a result that seemingly had no bounds.  Indeed, the government has yet to tell any court in any of the cases what it cannot do under the guise of regulating interstate commerce.  But rest assured that the Supreme Court will ask again, and soon—it considers the myriad cert petitions later this week.  And if the high court is as unsatisfied with the government’s jurisprudential non-theory as the D.C. Circuit was, it will not hesitate to strike down this expansion of federal power.  'Federalism is more than an exercise in setting the boundary between different institutions of government for their own integrity,' wrote Justice Kennedy for a unanimous Court last term (United States v. Bond).  'Federalism secures the freedom of the individual.'  I am confident that the Supreme Court will not allow this unprecedented invasion of individual liberty."


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