On March 23, 2010, President Obama signed into law the massive health care reform legislation entitled the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. This law generated enormous opposition, and some opponents of the statute contend that specific provisions are unconstitutional. The principal challenge to the Act, and the only one that some lower courts have recognized as valid, is the claim that Congress lacks authority under the Commerce Clause to require individuals to maintain health insurance.
Five federal district courts and one federal court of appeals have ruled upon the constitutionality of the individual mandate. Three of the district courts and the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the law; two district courts struck down the law. The four decisions upholding the law are: Mead v. Holder, 766 F.Supp.2d 16 (D. D.C. 2011) (upholding constitutionality of individual mandate and PPACA); Liberty Univ., Inc. v. Geithner, 753 F. Supp. 2d 611 (W.D. Va. 2010) (same); and Thomas More Law Ctr. v. Obama, 720 F. Supp. 2d 882 (E.D. Mich. 2010) (same), affirmed __ F.3d __ (6th Cir. 2011) 2011 WL 2556039 (same).
The two decisions striking down the law are Florida v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, __ F.Supp.2d __ (2011) 2011 WL 285683 (striking down PPACA in its entirety because of unconstitutionality of individual mandate provision); and Virginia ex rel Cuccinelli v. Sebelius, 728 F. Supp. 2d 768 (E.D. Va. 2010) (striking down individual mandate but upholding the remainder of the PPACA).
It is expected that the Supreme Court will take up the constitutionality of the individual mandate during the 2011-2012 Term, perhaps after other Circuit Courts of Appeal have rendered their decisions.
Students who are registered for Professor Huhn's courses may participate in discussions about this and other constitutional issues in the news through their account at Springboard at the University of Akron.