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Entries in Judge Gladys Kessler (1)

Tuesday
Feb222011

Third Federal Judge Upholds Health Care Law; Score Now 3-2

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- In a victory for the Obama administration, a federal  judge Tuesday night has upheld the constitutionality of the administration's health care law.

U.S. District Court Judge Gladys Kessler, of the District of Columbia, wrote that Congress "was acting within the bounds of its Commerce Clause power" when it mandated that individuals buy health insurance by 2014 or pay a penalty.
 
The ruling brings the judicial scorecard to 3-2. Three federal judges -- all nominated by Democratic presidents -- have upheld the law, while two judges -- nominated by Republican presidents -- struck down its core provision.
   
In upholding the law, Kessler said that the decision to forgo health insurance by some individuals leads to substantially higher insurance premiums for other individuals who do obtain coverage.
 
"There is nothing extraordinary about Congress' use of its Commerce Clause power," she wrote, "to rein in the price of health insurance policies."
 
She rejected any claim that an individual's choice not to enter the health insurance marketplace was akin to "inactivity." The law's critics claim that while Congress can regulate economic activity, it cannot regulate "inactivity," such as an individual's choice not to buy health insurance. Kessler called the debate between activity and inactivity "pure semantics."

The case was brought by several plaintiffs who could afford health insurance but for reasons of religion, or a belief in holistic health care, chose not to participate in the marketplace.

In a statement Tuesday evening, the Department of Justice praised the ruling.

"This court found -- as two others have previously -- that the minimum coverage provision of the statute was a reasonable measure for Congress to take in reforming our health care system," spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler said.

Kessler noted in her ruling that it was "highly likely" that the Supreme Court of the United States would eventually be required to rule on the matter.

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