For the second time in five months, a conservative appeals court judge, this one appointed by Ronald Reagan, has ruled in favor of the constitutionality of the Affordable Health Care Act.
Justice Laurence Silberman, the senior judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, cast the swing vote in a 2-1 majority opinion regarding the law that requires individuals to purchase health insurance.
In writing the court’s majority opinion, Silberman noted, “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.”
Dick Polman, a columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer, encapsulated Silberman’s opinion: “The U.S. Constitution gives Congress the right to regulate interstate commerce, health care is interstate commerce, and the uninsured adversely affect interstate commerce by shifting their costs to everyone else. Therefore, he ruled, the government has the right to compel the uninsured to get with the program.”
In June, Judge Jeffrey Sutton, a George W. Bush appointee on the U.S. Court of Appeals in Ohio, wrote ac oncurring opinion in favor of the law’s constitutionality.
Noting that health care represents over 17 percent of the U.S. economy and medical costs for the uninsured are at least $43 billion annually, Sutton argued, “Not every intrusive law is an unconstitutionally intrusive law.”
It will be interesting to see how the opinions of these two conservative jurists influence the members of the Supreme Court.