The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta ruled yesterday that the "individual mandate" provision in the recent health care reform law was unconstitutional. By a 2-1 vote, the court ruled that the constitution does not allow Congress to require that individuals purchase health insurance or pay a fine. The decision sided with the 26 states challenging the law, saying that if Congress can force people to purchase insurance for their own good, it can force people to purchase other things for their own good.
The government's argument centered around the Constitutional provision allowing it to regulate interstate commerce. While interstate commerce should be controlled Congress, the argument in this case falls apart. Insurance is not interstate commerce because sales of insurance is not allowed across state lines. If regulations are relaxed to allow for interstate sales of insurance, then Congress could claim power to regulate it, though the current law would still fall short of other restrictions placed on Congress. With conflicting decision coming at both the district and appeals court levels, this case appears headed for a showdown in front of the supreme court.