(AP Photo/Steve Helber)
Nearly two dozen lawsuits have been brought against the federal government challenging the legality of the law’s requirement that all individuals must have health insurance. While most of those cases have been thrown out, two have backed up the constitutionality of the law, saying that the federal government’s individual mandate is permitted under the “commerce clause” in the Constitution. The clause gives Congress jurisdiction over commerce that extends across state borders.
Two judges have ruled against the law. On December 13, U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson ruled in favor of the state of Virginia, represented by Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, saying that the commerce clause doesn’t give Congress the right to penalize individuals for “inactivity,” or not doing something, such as buying health insurance. The Justice Department has since appealed the ruling. And a federal judge in Florida ruled against the law in another lawsuit in which 26 states and the National Federation of Independent Business sued the federal government over the individual mandate and its ability to force states to pay for changes to Medicaid.
The ultimate decision on the constitutionality of the healthcare law will likely come from the U.S. Supreme Court, but it could take years before they hear the case. [See a slide show of 10 things that are (and aren’t) in the healthcare reform law.]