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Supreme Court Likely to Hear Constitutional Challenge to the Individual Mandate in PPACA

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the suit brought by 26 states and the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) challenging the constitutionality of the individual mandate that was included in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). 

While the Supreme Court is under no obligation to hear the suit, conflicting rulings by different Federal Circuit Courts and the direct request by the DOJ that the Court hear the case make it extremely likely the Supreme Court will hear the case during its upcoming term.

In August, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals found in a 2-1 ruling that the controversial individual mandate in PPACA was unconstitutional. The mandate requires that nearly all Americans maintain health care insurance or pay an income-based fine for lacking coverage. The majority opinion noted: “The federal government’s assertion of power, under the Commerce Clause, to issue an economic mandate for Americans to purchase insurance from a private company for the entire duration of their lives is unprecedented, lacks cognizable limits and imperils our federalist structure.”  In contrast, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled earlier this year that the individual mandate was constitutional. If the Supreme Court accepts the petition to hear the suit, a ruling could occur next summer – in the heat of the 2012 presidential campaign. 

Documents filed by the DOJ, NFIB and the 26 states are below:

DOJ petition to the Supreme Court

DOJ appendix that accompanied the petition

The filing by the 26 states to the Supreme Court 

NFIB filing to the Supreme Court 


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