President Barack Obama’s health care law was upheld on Tuesday by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, virtually guaranteeing that the U.S. Supreme Court will review the constitutionality of the law.
In a 2-to-1 decision, the D.C. Circuit agreed with a lower court decision to throw out a suit against the law. That suit, brought by a Christian-oriented legal group, contended that the law’s requirement that all Americans get health insurance is unconstitutional and violates religious freedom.
“The right to be free from federal regulation is not absolute and yields to the imperative that Congress be free to forge national solutions to national problems,” Judge Laurence Silberman wrote for himself and Judge Harry Edwards.
Judge Brett Kavanaugh disagreed without taking a position on the merits of the law, the Associated Press noted. He would have deferred a court finding on the law until after it takes effect in 2014.
Since several lawsuits have been filed against the law in various federal circuits, and rulings on those suits have differed, the road to the high court lies ahead, as Silberman observed as he wryly pledged to be “sparing in adding to the production of paper.” Nevertheless, the decision and dissent issued on Tuesday took up 103 pages.
The result in the D.C. Circuit was interesting politically, in that Silberman was appointed by President Ronald Reagan and might have been expected to rule against the health care law — if an oddsmaker were foolish enough to predict a judge’s ruling based on who put him on the bench. Edwards was appointed by President Jimmy Carter and Kavanaugh by President George W. Bush.
Last June, a panel for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit, based in Cincinnati, upheld the law, marking not only the first affirmation of the law on an appellate level but the first time that a judge appointed by a Republican had upheld it, as Main Justice reported. That jurist was Jeffrey Sutton, whose conservative credentials are solid. He, too, was appointed by Bush, and he once clerked for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.
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