The Affordable Care Act won a big round today in the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals when a court with two Republican appointees and one Democratic appointee ruling it constitutional. For anyone keeping score, that means 4 out of 6 appellate courts have upheld its constitutionality. But what makes this decision particularly significant is that it broke the partisan chokehold around it during its journey through the courts.
Martin's decision rejected the notion that going without health insurance constitutes an "inactivity" that can't be regulated under the Commerce Clause, noting that, "The uninsured cannot avoid the need for health care, and they consume over $100 billion in health care services annually." Martin adds that "Self-insuring for the cost of health care directly affects the interstate market for health care delivery and health insurance. These effects are not at all attenuated as were the links between the regulated activities and interstate commerce in Lopez and Morrison."
That last point is key, because Republican appointees concocted the "inactivity/activity" distinction as a rhetorical loophole to appeal to Justice Antonin Scalia. Scalia argued in a recent medical marijuana case that " "where Congress has the authority to enact a regulation of interstate commerce, it possesses every power needed to make that regulation effective."
This is a big win and a big deal, assuming that certain justices on our current Supreme Court can be trusted to actually be intellectually honest about how they rule in certain cases. But before it gets there, two more circuit courts need to rule on it -- the Fourth and Eleventh Circuit Courts, who have similar cases pending.