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

Writer James Alan McPherson, Winner Of Pulitzer, MacArthur And Guggenheim, Dies At 72

McPherson, the first African-American to win the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, has died at 72. His work explored the intersection of white and black lives with deftness, subtlety and wry humor.
NPR

QUIZ: How Much Do You Know About Presidents And Food?

It's week two of the party conventions, and all these speeches are making us hungry. So we made a quiz to test your savvy about presidents and our favorite topic, food.
NPR

WATCH: Albright Says It's 'Almost Too Hard To Express' Excitement Over Clinton

"I think she is brilliant and ... she's not a diva at all. She works very hard," Albright told NPR's Rachel Martin.
NPR

Police Use Fingertip Replicas To Unlock A Murder Victim's Phone

Michigan State University engineers tried 3-D-printed fingertips and special conductive replicas of the victim's fingerprints to crack the biometric lock on his Samsung Galaxy phone.

Leave a Comment

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