Heartland Institute Reacts to Tuesday’s Obamacare Ruling in DC Circuit Court

Published November 8, 2011

The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit Tuesday ruled 2–1 that it is constitutional for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act – also known as Obamacare – to force Americans to purchase health insurance.

The following statements from legal and health care experts at The Heartland Institute may be used for attribution. For more comments, refer to the contact information below. To book a Heartland guest on your program, please contact Tammy Nash at [email protected] and 312/377-4000. After regular business hours, contact Jim Lakely at [email protected] and 312/731-9364.

“President Ronald Reagan must be spinning in his grave.

“Today’s opinion, written by an appellate judge he appointed to the D.C. Court of Appeals, Laurence H. Silberman, is a vivid example of the extent to which the courts have strayed from the limiting principles of the U.S. Constitution. Worse yet, such straying continues without any careful analysis.

“The Framers of the Constitution mandated a federal government with narrowly confined powers. Thus, the federal government has the power only to regulate ‘commerce among the states.’ This language, the court held in a 2–1 decision, was ‘obviously intended to make a distinction between interstate and local commerce, but Supreme Court jurisprudence over the last century has largely eroded that distinction.’

“So in one short phrase, this court has obliterated the distinction between local and interstate commerce, entirely without analysis. The health care ‘industry’ is a national market, the court concluded without discussion, implying we participate in that market when we go to the doctor for a sore throat. The health insurance market, the court also found without discussion, is also a national market. But the court ignores the fact that there is no interstate health insurance market – health insurance is sold entirely intrastate.

“‘The right to be free from federal regulation is not absolute, and yields to the imperative that Congress be free to forge national solutions to national problems, no matter how local – or seemingly passive – their individual origins,’ Judge Silberman wrote.

“‘Man is not free unless government is limited,’ Reagan said. Judge Silberman has been inside the Beltway too long.”

Maureen Martin
Senior Fellow for Legal Affairs
The Heartland Institute
[email protected]

“This latest opinion won’t change anything in regards to the immediate path for President Obama’s health care law. It’s still going to end up in the Supreme Court, with a decision possibly as soon as next spring, on whether there are any limits to the regulatory power of Congress to command American citizens to purchase a product, with their own money or the money of other taxpayers, for the rest of their life. President Obama’s law is unpopular and unsustainable – and we’ll soon find out if it’s unconstitutional, too.”

Benjamin Domenech
Research Fellow, The Heartland Institute
Managing Editor, Health Care News
[email protected]

The Heartland Institute is a 27-year-old national nonprofit organization with offices in Chicago, Illinois; Washington, DC; Austin, Texas; Tallahassee, Florida; and Columbus, Ohio. Its mission is to discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems. For more information, visit its Web site or call 312/377-4000.