The constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) eventually will be determined by the U.S. Supreme Court. As of June 2011, five federal district courts (trial courts) have ruled on the issue. Three courts have upheld the law; one court struck down the mandate that individuals acquire health insurance; and one court struck down the entire law.
Starting in 2014, the PPACA requires citizens and legal residents of the United States to obtain health insurance unless they meet certain narrow exceptions, such as being a member of a recognized religious sect that is conscientiously opposed to accepting public or private health insurance benefits. Persons who do not obtain health insurance will be required to pay a monetary penalty with their tax returns.
The district court rulings are being appealed to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in different circuits. When one or more of the Circuit Courts of Appeal issue their rulings (probably in the summer or fall), the Supreme Court is very likely to take the case(s) and settle the issue.
Challenges under the Commerce Clause
The primary legal challenge is based on the Commerce Clause to the United States Constitution. Article I, Section 8, clause 3 of the Constitution gives Congress the power “To regulate Commerce … among the several states.” (more…)