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The Impact of a 'Middle-Management' Health Care Ruling


Health Reform, Health Care Reform, ACA, PPACA, Commerce Clause, Supreme Court, Individual Mandate, Inactivity

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Just in time for Fourth of July holiday reading and less than a month after it heard oral arguments, the 6th Circuit issued a path-breaking set of opinions upholding the federal health reform law. Congress has the constitutional authority under the Commerce Clause, a majority of the three-judge panel held, to mandate that most citizens have health insurance or pay a penalty. As Judge Jeffrey S. Sutton wrote in the Thomas More Law Center v. Obama opinion that is rightfully getting the most attention of the three, “[c]all this mandate what you will - an affront to individual autonomy or an imperative of national health care - it meets the requirement of regulating activities that substantially affect interstate commerce.” While suggesting that he disagrees with Congress’s policy choice in this regard, Judge Sutton writes that the government has the better legal argument and that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) clearly survives a facial constitutional challenge. If supportive, long-standing Supreme Court precedent is to be overturned, doing so is not, writes Judge Sutton, the role of a “middle-management judge.”