Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Healthcare Law Wins Another Court Appeal

The healthcare law survived another challenge. This time, its constitutionality was upheld by a very important and very conservative court. Via the Washington Post:

In a 2 to 1 decision, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit found that Congress acted within its authority to regulate interstate commerce when it required virtually all Americans to obtain insurance or pay a penalty. The dissenting judge argued that the case should be dismissed because the challenge was premature.

The insurance mandate “certainly is an encroachment on individual liberty, but it is no more so than a command that restaurants or hotels are obliged to serve all customers regardless of race, that gravely ill individuals cannot use a substance their doctors described as the only effective palliative for excruciating pain, or that a farmer cannot grow enough wheat to support his own family,” Senior Judge Laurence Silberman wrote in the majority opinion.

Silberman’s participation in the majority is noteworthy because he is highly respected in conservative judicial circles. An appointee of Republican President Ronald Reagan and veteran of two Republican administrations, he has written several recent decisions whose arguments were upheld by the Supreme Court.

Although it’s dangerous to predict what the Supreme Court will do, it’s a good sign that a judge such as Laurence Silberman supported the premise of the individual mandate. He’s considered to be the darling of the right-wing jurisprudence — he’s the judge who threw out the DC ban on handguns, among other things — and if he is seeing no problem with the law, chances are the Supreme Court will at least take note.