Politics
Mike Griffith, of Canton, Ga., holds a sign during a protest against President Barack Obama Mike Griffith, of Canton, Ga., holds a sign during a protest against President Barack Obama's health care reform plan outside the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, Wednesday, June 8, 2011. A three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals was hearing arguments on whether to reverse a Florida judge's ruling that struck down the law. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)  

Atlanta court hears oral arguments in health care lawsuit

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Amanda Carey
Contributor

Oral arguments were heard Wednesday in the lawsuit brought by Florida and 25 other states challenging the constitutionality of the individual mandate in the health care law.

Now that both sides have laid out their arguments, all signs seem to point to an eventual ruling from the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that strikes the provision down.

Ilya Shaprio, senior fellow at the Cato Institute, who was present for the arguments, told The Daily Caller he’s optimistic the court will rule in favor of the states. “Based on their questioning, [they] are more likely to rule in our favor.”

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi released a statement also saying she was pleased with the oral arguments and “encouraged” with the judge’s responses.

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“The federal government could not rebut our argument that the individual mandate is an unprecedented intrusion on individual liberty,” said Bondi. “The federal government could also not articulate any principled limit on Congress’s power. Simply put, the federal government failed to justify Congress’s decision, for the first time in American history, to force citizens to purchase a product.”

According to local news reports, questioning centered around whether it would be possible to throw out the individual mandate and leave the rest of the law intact, and if there has ever been a Commerce Clause case of this kind.

If not, the judges wanted to know if that was because this is a specialized case with a unique product (health insurance) or if Congress is genuinely trying to expand its power.

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There was also a focus on distinguishing between health insurance and health care.

The suit filed by the 26 states contended that a law mandating the purchase of health insurance is a vast expansion of congressional authority.

This particular case was brought at the request from the Obama administration to appeal a previous ruling from Senior U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson, who found not just the individual mandate but the entire law unconstitutional.

Acting US Solicitor General Neal Katyal argued the case for the administration, while Paul Clement, solicitor general under President George W. Bush, argued for the states. Three judges heard the arguments – Chief Judge Joel Dubina of Montgomery, and Judges Frank Hull of Atlanta and Stanley Marcus of Miami.

Though a ruling in favor of the states is generally expected, the decision won’t be handed down until late summer.