Appeals Judges Ask Tough Questions on Obamacare

Friday, 10 Jun 2011 02:11 PM

By Martin Gould

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Federal appeals court judges appear as if they might be inclined to declare Obamacare unconstitutional after a three-hour hearing in Atlanta, setting the stage for a Supreme Court ruling on the administration’s signature measure.

The panel of three judges from the 11th Circuit, generally considered the most conservative in the country, asked probing questions and made pointed remarks during a hearing on the 26-state lawsuit against the healthcare law in Atlanta on Wednesday, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Chief Judge Joel Dubina and Judge Stanley Marcus both said they could not find any case like the act’s insistence that citizens buy health insurance.

“Is there anything that suggests Congress can do this?” Dubina said.

“If they could compel this, what purchase could they not compel?” Marcus wondered.

Solicitor General Neal Katyal, arguing for the administration, said healthcare was different to anything else, saying that taxpayers have to pick up the tab for uninsured people needing emergency care, and that meant it should come under Congress’ power to regulate commerce.

But Paul Clement, solicitor general in the Bush administration, who appeared for 26 Republican attorneys general who oppose the law, pointed out, "In 220 years, Congress never saw fit to use this power, to compel a person to engage in commerce."

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