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Appeals court rules Obamacare individual mandate unconstitutional

August 12, 2011 | 12:03 pm

   Supreme Court
President Obama's healthcare overhaul legislation has been handed its biggest legal defeat to date.

In a 2-1 vote, the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta sided Friday with 26 states challenging the constitutionality of a provision in the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Referred to as the "individual mandate," it requires nearly all Americans not covered under employer-provided health plans to purchase health insurance or face a penalty.

The administration had argued that the general-welfare and commerce clauses of the Constitution gave Congress the power to require Americans to purchase coverage, but the appeals court rejected that reasoning but also ruled that the rest of the massive law could remain in effect.

The decision is the latest of several rulings on this law, both for and against, including one by U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson in Florida, who struck down the entire law as unconstitutional in January.

Because the individual mandate is a cornerstone of the legislation, the issue is widely expected to wind up before the Supreme Court, which reconvenes in October.

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'Congress exceeded the bounds of its authority' - Federal Judge Roger Vinson on Obama healthcare law

-- Kate O'Hare

Media critic Kate O’Hare is a regular Ticket contributor. She also blogs about TV at Hot Cuppa TV and is a frequent contributor at entertainment news site Zap2it. Also follow O'Hare on Twitter @KateOH.

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Photo: U.S. Supreme Court Justices. Credit: Chip Somodevilla | Getty Images

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