Bush-Appointed Judge Sides With Democrats on Health-Care Reform

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Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Up until today, every court decision either upholding or striking down health-care reform's individual mandate — the government's requirement that you buy health insurance — was decided along party lines. That is, while judges are supposed to be biased and all that nonsense, every judge appointed by a Republican president has declared the mandate unconstitutional, while every judge appointed by a Democratic president felt the mandate fell within Congress's powers to regulate interstate commerce. And then:


A federal appeals court in Cincinnati on Wednesday upheld the health-care law passed by Congress last year, saying the law's requirement for most Americans to carry insurance or pay a penalty is constitutional.

The 2-1 ruling by the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals was the first by an appellate court on the law, which has sharply divided the two political parties and is likely to be a central issue in President Barack Obama's re-election campaign.

The dissenting judge was a Ronald Reagan appointee, but an appointee of George W. Bush concurred with court's opinion. As Think Progress notes, he's no RINO:

Judge Jeffrey Sutton is a George W. Bush appointee and a former law clerk to conservative Justice Antonin Scalia. He served as an officer in the conservative Federalist Society’s Federalism and Separation of Powers practice group, and was one of the nation’s leading crusaders for expanding the role of the states at the federal government’s expense. Prior to becoming a judge, Sutton devoted much of his career to preventing people with disabilities, religious minorities, and even children who are illegally deprived of Medicaid coverage from holding states accountable in federal court — even successfully arguing major states’ rights cases in the Supreme Court.

Sutton's inclusion in the Obama-friendly decision should help to blunt conservative criticism of the opinion. Of course, all of these lower-court rulings are merely foreplay leading up to the inevitable courtgasm: a Supreme Court hearing.

Appeals Court in Ohio Upholds Health Law [WSJ]
George W. Bush-Appointed States’ Rights Crusader Rejects Lawsuit Challenging Affordable Care Act [Think Progress]