Florida Leads March to High Court Over Health Care

By: Jim Saunders, The News Service of Florida; My Florida Legal Release
By: Jim Saunders, The News Service of Florida; My Florida Legal Release

THE CAPITAL, TALLAHASSEE, September 29, 2011 -

Jim Saunders, The News Service of Florida

Florida and its allies Wednesday asked the U.S. Supreme Court to reject the 2010 federal health overhaul, hoping for a speedy decision in the landmark legal fight with the Obama administration.

It was no surprise that Florida, other states and the National Federation of Independent Business filed two petitions asking the Supreme Court to take the case. Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi likened lower courts that have ruled in the dispute to a "pass through."

"We've been seeking to get to the U.S. Supreme Court as soon as possible from day one,'' Bondi said during a news conference at the Capitol after the petitions were filed.

The Obama administration also signaled this week it wants justices to determine the constitutionality of the law during their next term, which starts in October.

A three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals this summer ruled that the law's so-called "individual mandate" is unconstitutional. But the U.S. Justice Department said Monday it would not seek a hearing before the full appeals court, a move that could help clear the path to the Supreme Court.

It remains unclear when --- or if --- the Supreme Court will agree to hear the challenge filed by Florida, 25 other states, NFIB and two individual plaintiffs. Similar cases are working their way through lower courts in other parts of the country.

But the Florida case has been perhaps the most-closely watched challenge to the law. Former Republican Attorney General Bill McCollum filed the case in Pensacola immediately after President Obama signed the health-care law in March 2010.

In their petitions, the states and NFIB contend that the entire health law should be tossed out because the individual mandate is unconstitutional. That mandate will force almost all Americans to have health coverage in 2014 or face financial penalties.

While the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the individual mandate, it let the rest of the massive law move forward --- a legal concept known as "severability.'' Other parts of the law range from regulations on insurers to an expansion of Medicaid.

In its petition, the states described the mandate as the "centerpiece of the delicate compromise" that led to the law.

"We believe that if the mandate is unconstitutional, we firmly believe that the entire health care act is unconstitutional because of the inner workings of it,'' Bondi said.

The Obama administration, however, disputes that the mandate is unconstitutional, saying Congress has the legal authority to approve such coverage requirements.

Administration lawyers also have fought arguments that the entire law should be thrown out if the mandate is found unconstitutional. As an example, they have argued in lower courts that part of the law expanding Medicaid coverage could happen regardless of the individual mandate.

In their petition, the states also seek to get the Supreme Court to find that the Medicaid expansion is unconstitutional. They contend it is a form of federal "coercion" because states will have to go along with the expansion or risk losing billions of dollars in Medicaid funding.

But the Obama administration argues that Medicaid has always been a voluntary program for states, which have to comply with federal requirements. Also, the administration says the federal government will pay almost all of the expansion-related costs in the early years.

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AG Bondi Message on Florida and Other States Requesting U.S. Supreme Court Review of Health Care Lawsuit

Today, Florida and the 25 other states challenging the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act announced that we have filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review the decision of the United States 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.

This health care law is an affront on Americans' individual liberty, and we will not allow the federal government to violate our constitutional rights. Our country urgently needs a final ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court.
Although the Eleventh Circuit agreed with the States that the Act's individual mandate requirement violates the Constitution, the States have asked the Supreme Court to review three other aspects of the opinion: (1) whether the entire Act must fail because its centerpiece - the mandate that every person purchase insurance - is unconstitutional; (2) whether the federal government can force the States to administer and fund a substantial expansion of Medicaid or risk all of their Medicaid funding; and (3) whether the federal government can require States to give state employees a federally mandated level of health insurance coverage.

This case is paramount in our history and will define the boundaries of Congress’ power as set forth in our Constitution. We must defend Americans’ rights and freedoms and prevent us from being forced into purchasing anything.

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ATLANTA, Ga. – September 28, 2011 -

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and the 25 other States
challenging the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act today announced that they have filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review the decision of the United States 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.

“This health care law is an affront on Americans’ individual liberty, and
we will not allow the federal government to violate our constitutional
rights. Our country urgently needs a final ruling from the U.S. Supreme
Court,” stated Attorney General Pam Bondi. “This case is paramount in our history and will define the boundaries of Congress’ power as set forth in our Constitution. We must defend Americans’ rights and freedoms and prevent us from being forced into purchasing anything.”

Attorney General Pam Bondi addresses reporters' questions on Florida going to the U.S. Supreme Court to challenge the federal health care law.

Although the Eleventh Circuit agreed with the States that the Act's
individual mandate requirement violates the Constitution, the States have asked the Supreme Court to review three other aspects of the opinion: (1) whether the entire Act must fail because its centerpiece - the mandate that every person purchase insurance - is unconstitutional; (2) whether the federal government can force the States to administer and fund a substantial expansion of Medicaid or risk all of their Medicaid funding; and (3) whether the federal government can require States to give state employees a federally mandated level of health insurance coverage.

As stated in the petition, “This case offers this Court an ideal vehicle to resolve pressing and persistent constitutional questions arising out of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. It represents an unprecedented challenge—involving over half of the States in the Nation—to an unprecedented legislative initiative.”


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