Constitutional Law

‘Traveling Road Show in Wingtips’ Reaches 11th Circuit in Health-Care Appeal

The third federal appeals court to hear a challenge to the Obama administration’s health care law questioned whether Congress had the constitutional authority for most people to buy health insurance and noted the lack of precedent.

USA Today says it’s difficult to predict how the Atlanta-based 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will rule, although the judges on the panel spent considerable time questioning whether the insurance mandate could be separated from other parts of the law if the requirement is ruled unconstitutional. The panel “sharply questioned,” the mandate, USA Today says, while the New York Times tells of a panel that “sprayed lawyers Gatling-gun style with questions.”

The Los Angeles Times goes further, saying the three-judge panel seemed prepared to strike down at least part of the law. Of all the circuits, the Los Angeles Times says, the 11th is seen by experts as the most likely to rule against the law.

One of the judges on the 11th Circuit panel was appointed by President George H.W. Bush, one was appointed by President Bill Clinton, and the third was appointed as a trial judge by President Reagan and an appeals judge by Clinton.

The high-profile case was brought by 26 state attorneys general. It has gotten the most attention, the New York Times says, because of “the political heft of the plaintiffs and the intellectual firepower of the lawyers.” The newspaper describes the serial federal appeals as taking on the feel of “a traveling road show in wingtips.”

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