Obama Administration Moves for Expedited Appeal of Florida Decision Nullifying Health Care Law

On March 9, 2011, in the ongoing litigation regarding the constitutionality of President Obama’s Health Care Law, known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“PPACA”), the United States submitted to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals a motion to expedite consideration of its appeal of a Florida federal district court’s decision, which struck down PPACA in its entirety.  While one request to expedite a PPACA appeal has already been granted, others are still under consideration in three Circuit Courts of Appeal.

In the Florida case, captioned Bondi v. U.S. Dep’t of Health and Human Services, District Court Judge Roger Vinson held that the minimum coverage provision of PPACA, which required certain non-exempted individuals to maintain a minimum level of health insurance coverage or pay a tax penalty, was unconstitutional because Congress lacked the authority under either its commerce or taxing powers to require coverage.

Judge Vinson’s January 31, 2011 opinion also held that this minimum coverage provision could not be severed from the rest of PPACA and, therefore, the entire law, not just the unconstitutional provision, must be voided.

The government’s motion for an expedited appeal in the Eleventh Circuit was filed in order to comply with Judge Vinson’s March 3, 2011 order, issued after the government moved for clarification of his original decision.  In that order, Judge Vinson agreed to stay his ruling declaring PPACA unconstitutional, pending the outcome of any appeal, if the government moved for an expedited appeal in either the Eleventh Circuit or the United States Supreme Court by March 10, 2011.  Although the government has opted to file its appeal in the Eleventh Circuit, it seems inevitable that the Supreme Court will ultimately decide the Constitutionality of PPACA.

Stay tuned for new developments in the PPACA litigation.

This post was contributed by David Nardolillo