Everyone freaked out over a Florida judge’s ruling last month that the individual mandate, and therefore the entire health-care reform law, was unconstitutional, but another judge in the District of Columbia ruled yesterday that, no, the legislation is fine. Reports the Times
Judge Kessler adopted the government’s position on whether Congress’s authority to regulate interstate commerce is so broad that it can require people to buy a commercial product. Past Supreme Court decisions have established the standard that Congress can control “activities that substantially affect interstate commerce.”
The judge suggested in her 64-page opinion that not buying insurance was an active choice that had clear effects on the marketplace by burdening other payers with the cost of uncompensated medical care.
There have now been three district court rulings upholding all of the health-care reform law, and two striking down the individual mandate as unconstitutional. In what is surely a striking coincidence, all three pro-legislation rulings came from appointees of Bill Clinton, while both anti-legislation rulings came from appointees of Republican presidents. Not that any of this really matters — ultimately, the constitutionality of the law will be determined by one man, Anthony Kennedy.