Another court declares Obamacare’s individual mandate unconstitutional

Today, Federal District Court Judge Christopher Conner of the Middle District of Pennsylvania ruled that Obamacare’s requirement, that all must purchase health insurance, is unconstitutional. You can read the entire opinion here.

The court held (at page 2) that,

The power to regulate interstate commerce does not subsume the power to dictate a lifetime financial committment to health insurance coverage.

The court undertakes an excellent analysis of the Sixth Circuit opinion, finding the mandate constitutional, beginning at page 19, and the Eleventh Circuit opinion, finding the mandate unconstitutional, beginning at page 23.  Regardless of your view of either opinion, that section of Judge Connor’s opinion is definately worth reading.

But, Judge Connor’s opinion, unlike any of its predecessors does something unique.

Judge Connor not only throws out the individual mandate, but he also throws out the law’s requirement that all insurance companies must cover all applicants regardless of their health condition (guaranteed issue), and, regardless of their health condition, must charge the same premium as they would for a person with no health issues (community rating).

The government has always maintained that the individual mandate is the only “solution” to Obamacare’s requirement of guaranteed issue and community rating.  Indeed, at oral argument before Judge Conner, the government claimed that the individual mandate, guaranteed issue and community rating “are absolutely intertwined”.  (see page 47)

Of course, the government used that argument to claim that the mandate must be constitutional because of what the law requires the insurance companies to do.

Judge Conner turned that argument on its head.  He held that because he found the mandate was unconstitutional, the portions of the bill that were “intertwined” with it must also be thrown out.

Be careful what you argue. 

Other than that, there is an interesting section of the opinion (see page 29) concerning a question posed by the court at oral argument. 

The court asked counsel for the government to assume that because of the “aging” of Americans (aka, Baby Boomers), there is a shortage of beds in long term health care facilities. Could the federal government require all Americans  purchase long term health care insurance?

By now you know the government’s answer.


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The Sound Off Sister was an Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and special trial attorney for the Department of Justice, Criminal Division; a partner in the Florida law firm of Shutts & Bowen, and an adjunct professor at the University of Miami, School of Law. The Sound Off Sister offers frequent commentary concerning legislation making its way through Congress, including the health reform legislation passed in early 2010.


  1. winnie on September 13, 2011 at 10:43 pm

    I like this sentence in particular:? “If affirmed, an expanded commerce power would open a Pandora’s box of nefarious mandates limited only by the confines of the legislative majority“.?
    So, if I’m to understand this, it was the Democrats who pushed Obamacare through the Senate…& that an expanded commerce power may lead to wicked or criminal behavior of the legislative majority (in this case, Democrats).? Is it safe to say that this particular judge does not trust the democrats when it comes to playing around with the commerce clause?? There is no point in thrusting Republicans into this argument because Republicans would love to repeal this whole mess, making all of these court rulings of little or no practical value.

  2. Political Entropy on September 14, 2011 at 12:49 am

    There is hope for this world yet.

  3. Tim-in-Alabama on September 14, 2011 at 7:50 am


  4. Lynn on September 14, 2011 at 7:56 am

    The Liberty Bell still rings out LOUD and PROUD, this is for you Laura Ingraham

  5. RoBrDona on September 14, 2011 at 3:15 pm

    Democrats overreaching again, a la death and taxes.

  6. Dimsdale on September 14, 2011 at 3:41 pm

    If I had been in lecturer ?bama’s constitutional law class, I would consider my knowledge suspect.
    Has anyone ever come out and said what a great instructor he was?? I haven’t seen it.

  7. johnboy111 on September 14, 2011 at 7:22 pm

    ever wonder why America is not competitive in the world..too many lawers&regulations..remember on top of my mower’s mulfler it say’s?? HOT

  8. JBS on September 15, 2011 at 10:51 am

    While it is good that Obamacare is being found as bad legislation by the courts, isn’t it necessary for the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) to rule it unconstitutional. At the lower court’s level, I am sure that the Regime will just challenge those rulings. Obamacare would become law. At the SCOTUS level, the death knell of Obamacare would be final.
    What is the chance of that?

  9. sammy22 on September 18, 2011 at 11:29 am

    The more regulation, the more litigation, the more money for lawyers on both sides of the issue.


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