Health Care Court Battles – Predictable as Ever

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As I noted this morning, health care reform made another court appearance today. A three-judge panel in the Fourth Circuit heard arguments for and against the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate. The appellate court, reviewing two district court decisions, is just one more stop on the way to the Supreme Court, which will ultimately decide the fate of the ACA.

A ruling is not expected anytime soon, but apparently, things did not go so well for challengers to the law, Liberty University and the Commonwealth of Virginia. Reports Philip Klein of the Washington Examiner:

A three-judge appeals court panel comprised entirely of Democratic nominees hammered away at parties challenging the constitutionality of the national health care law in oral arguments here this morning.

In its questions, the panel, made up of two Obama nominees and one Clinton nominee, appeared skeptical about the merits of the arguments that the law’s individual mandate represented an unprecedented extension of Congressional power. In addition, they raised questions about whether the state of Virginia even had standing to challenge the law in the first place.

Politico’s Jennifer Haberkorn reports (subscription required) that both sides faced challenges:

A federal appeals panel reacted skeptically to two challenges to the Democrats’ health care overhaul Tuesday but expressed concern over the precedent that would be set if the court were to uphold the law.

If you’d like to hear oral arguments for yourself, thank the Fourth Circuit, which quickly made audio of today’s proceedings public.

The Liberty University case:

Commonwealth of Virginia case:

So far, no federal judge appointed by a Democrat has ruled that the ACA or its individual mandate is unconstitutional. Likewise, no Republican-appointed judge has ruled the law should stand. Unless and until one of these things happens, neither side really has the upper hand.