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Federal appeals court says individual mandate in health-care law is unconstitutional

It says HERE that “a three-judge panel on the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals has determined that the health care law’s individual mandate exceeds Congress’ Commerce Clause powers and is therefore unconstitutional.”

But the ruling also holds that the rest of the law can stand.

Before you conservatives start dancing in the streets, consider this:

In a previous ruling, the Sixth Circuit court upheld the constitutionality of the mandate. In that case, Republican judge Jeffrey Sutton, until then a rising star in conservative jurisprudence, ruled with the plaintiffs that the mandate is constitutional. For score-keepers, that means one very conservative Democratic appeals court judge (Hull) has ruled against the mandate and two Republican judges (Sutton and Marcus) have upheld it.

This sets the stage for the question of the mandate’s constitutionality to be settled by the Supreme Court. It also appears to diminish the possibility that the entire law will be voided. Conservative health care reform foes have rested their hopes on this challenge, brought by the governors and attorneys general of 26 states, and others, and viewed today’s ruling as necessary, to stand a chance of prevailing before the high Court.

UPDATE: THIS ANGLE on the story focuses on a Republican judge’s fierce dissent from a conservative Democrat’s majority opinion.

The judicial rulings in this matter don’t necessarily follow any predictable political patterns.

UPDATE II: THIS GUY makes a good pretty argument for why today’s ruling is wrong.

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