The insurance-buying mandate in President Barack Obama’s health-care reform legislation is unconstitutional, a federal judge in Pennsylvania ruled.
U.S. District Judge Christopher C. Conner in Harrisburg today said Congress exceeded its powers under the federal constitution when it included in the act Obama signed into law last year a provision requiring almost all Americans to have medical insurance starting in 2014.
“The federal government,” Conner said, “is one of limited enumerated powers, and Congress’s efforts to remedy the ailing health care and health insurance markets must fit squarely within the boundaries of those powers.”
Three federal appeals courts have weighed in on the issue since June 29. A Cincinnati panel backed the provision, 2-1, while one in Atlanta voted it down by the same margin. The U.S. appeals court in Richmond on Sept. 8 rejected two separate challenges on jurisdictional grounds.
The Harrisburg ruling, if appealed, would be heard by the U.S. Court of Appeals in Philadelphia, which hasn’t yet ruled on the merits of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
Tracy Schmaler, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Justice Department, didn’t immediately reply to voice-mail and e-mail requests for comment.
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