The courtroom was tense earlier today when the Eleventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals began hearing arguments for the latest legal showdown in the war over ObamaCare. The three presiding judges are reviewing a previous decision that was made by Pensacola, Florida Judge Roger Vinson. Back in January, Vinson found the entire 2,700-page health care law unconstitutional.
The proceedings began with the three judges critically questioning the contents of the health care law. Collectively, these questions seemed to indicate that they may be ready to declare all, or at least parts, of the law unconstitutional. Perhaps most damning, the judges explained that they could not recall one instance in history in which a court had agreed with the government forcing citizens to purchase a product or service (the health care law mandates that most Americans have coverage by 2014). The Los Angeles Times has more:
"I can't find any case like this," said Chief Judge Joel Dubina of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. "If we uphold this, are there any limits" on the power of the federal government? he asked.
Judge Stanley Marcus appeared to agree. "I can't find any case" in the past where the courts upheld "telling a private person they are compelled to purchase a product in the open market…. Is there anything that suggests Congress can do this?"
Many critics of the law believe that the government went too far in implementing the individual mandate. The judges appeared to mirror this sentiment. According to FOX News:
Judge Frank Hull later asked whether Congress could pass a similar law which could require Americans to buy certain types of cars or solar panels to comply with federal energy policy. Her question encapsulated the fear shared by many: that if the law is upheld it will open the door to unprecedented federal intervention in people’s lives.
To date, 26 states and the National Federation of Independent Businesses have come together to urge the judges to put a stop to the Democrats' controversial health care law. These parties are represented by Bush-era Solicitor General Paul Clement.
Regardless of what happens, this case is far from over. The 11th Circuit judges are not expected to rule on the matter until the end of the summer and, even when they do, the case will likely move to the nation's high court. During the proceedings, Judge Joel Dubina said, “I doubt this is the last time we’ll be arguing this case,” clearly predicting that the fight will likely make its way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
FOX News' Judge Napolitano believes that the Supreme Court will hear the case sometime in 2012. If a decision is made before the November 2012 election and the Obama administration loses, it could spell trouble for the president's chances at a second term. Below, watch Napolitano discuss his take on these issues: