Filed Under:

Conservative Appeals Court Judge Writes Opinion Upholding Health Law

Play associated audio

An appeals court judge appointed by President Ronald Reagan just wrote an opinion affirming the constitutionality of the federal law overhauling health care.

That makes three appeals court decisions in favor of the law and one against, if you're keeping track.

But the latest decision written by Judge Laurence Silberman of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, could shift the prospects for challenges against the law, which are expected to reach the Supreme Court within months.

"If someone like Judge Silberman, who is among the most conservative judges in the country, is willing to say that this case has no merit, I think it's a very very good sign that some of the conservative justices on the Supreme Court are going to break ranks as well," Ian Millhiser, a policy analyst at the liberal think tank Center for American Progress, told NPR.

The 2-1 ruling by the court affirms the health insurance mandate at the core of law, finding that it's consistent with Congress' constitutional authority to regulate interstate commerce.

Starting in 2014, most Americans will have to show they have health insurance coverage or pay a financial penalty.

Judge Harry Edwards, appointed by President Carter, voted with Silberman to uphold the law. Judge Brett Kavanaugh, appointed by President George W. Bush, dissented, saying the court couldn't rule on a tax-related issue (the penalty for a lack of insurance would be levied along with federal taxes) until the tax had been collected.

Silberman's opinion acknowledged that "a direct requirement for most Americans to purchase any product or service seems an intrusive exercise of legislative power" and explains why legislators hadn't gone that route before.

While a mandate "certainly is an encroachment on individual liberty," he continues, it's no more intrusive than requiring hotels and restaurants to serve customers without regard for race.

"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, no matter how local — or seemingly passive — their individual origins," the decisions concludes.

Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Not My Job: Sharon Jones Gets Quizzed On Handshakes

We've invited the lead singer of Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings to play a game called "Let's shake on it."
NPR

Salvage Supperclub: A High-End Dinner In A Dumpster To Fight Food Waste

The ingredients — think wilted basil, bruised plums, garbanzo bean water — sound less than appetizing. Whipped together, they're a tasty meal that show how home cooks can use often-tossed foods.
NPR

Barbershop: Speechwriters Speak On The RNC And DNC

Republican speechwriter Mary Kate Cary, Democratic speechwriter Jeff Nussbaum and historian from the University of Virginia Barbara Perry dissect the last two weeks of speeches at the RNC and DNC.
NPR

From 'The Water's Edge To The Cutting Edge': Fish Skeletons, CT Scans And Engineering

Professor Adam Summers is a "fish guy." He uses fish to get engineering ideas. His latest project is to CT scan every type of fish — all 33,000 of them.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.