Federal District Court in Pennsylvania Strikes Down Individual Mandate

Federal district Judge Christopher Connor of the Middle District of Pennsylvania just issued an opinion striking down Obama health care plan individual mandate. It is available here. Timothy Sandefur has some helpful commentary on the decision here. As Sandefur mentions, Connor’s opinion is unusual for striking down the mandate despite rejecting the view that upholding it would give Congress unlimited authority to enact other mandates. My own view is that upholding the mandate would indeed lead to an unconstrained slippery slope of this kind, as I explained here. On the important severability question, Connor argues that the preexisting conditions coverage requirement cannot be severed from the mandate, but that the rest of the bill can be.

We now have three district courts and one court of appeals that have voted to strike down the mandate, and three district courts and one court of appeals that have voted to uphold it. Of the twelve federal judges who have considered the question, six have gone one way and six the other, with ten of the twelve (including Judge Connor) splitting along partisan and ideological lines.

It is now more clear than ever that there is no expert consensus on this subject, and that this is not a frivolous case that only ignorant or misguided extremists could possibly support.

UPDATE: The court in question is actually the Middle District of Pennsylvania, not the Eastern District, as I originally stated in the post. I apologize for the error, which has now been corrected.