The individual mandate is invalid, says court. While the chattering class was focused mostly on the pageantry in Washington yesterday, some more momentous news (in terms of practical impact) may have been happening further south. On Wednesday, a federal appeals court in New Orleans held that the controversial part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) known as the individual mandate is unconstitutional.
A signature part of Obamacare, the individual mandate requires every American to have health insurance or pay a fine. In a 2–1 ruling issued yesterday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit held that this requirement is not a "constitutional exercise of congressional power."
"If Congress can compel the purchase of health insurance today, it can, for example, micromanage Americans' day-to-day nutrition choices tomorrow," the judges wrote.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said he would lead state prosecutors in asking the Supreme Court to overturn the appeals court ruling.
For now, the panel of appellate judges remanded the case to the U.S. district court in Texas where it originated, so a judge there could "conduct a more searching inquiry" into the viability of other parts of the law. (Volokh Conspiracy bloggers Josh Blackman and Ilya Somin offer more on what the judges wrote and what it means.)
Last year, that court held that the individual mandate was not only unconstitutional but also essential to the functioning of Obamacare overall. Without it, the court said in December 2018, the whole health care law must be invalidated.
Speaking of things getting canceled: The Democratic-led House of Representatives voted yesterday to impeach President Donald Trump, making him the third person in U.S. history to get this far in a congressional effort to deplatform someone from the presidency. But the matter now goes to the Republican-led Senate, where no one expects enough votes to remove Trump from office.
- French sex workers are taking their country's prostitution laws to court, telling the European Court of Human Rights that "it is urgent that the sacrifice of sex workers on the altar of morality end!"
- Attorneys general from Alabama, Louisiana, and South Dakota are suing to stop the Equal Rights Amendment from moving forward.
- "To say Trump deserves impeachment is different from saying that impeachment is good for the country. It might, in fact, turn out quite badly," argues Shadi Hamid at The Atlantic.
- Trump now says impeaching presidents is unconstitutional, full stop. However…
Check out this exchange I had with then private citizen @realDonaldTrump on Oct. 15, 2008. We spoke about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and he then offered his thoughts about impeachment. pic.twitter.com/mXlsG9SjbB
— Wolf Blitzer (@wolfblitzer) December 18, 2019