Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The breadth of the holding

Again, because Jusdge Sutton's reasoning is narrower than Judge Martin's, it is Judge Sutton's opinion that sets the boundaries of the court's collective rationale. Thus, this paragraph from Judge Sutton's opinion essentially defines the breadth of the court's holding:
"For now, whatever else may be said about plaintiffs’ activity/inactivity theory of commerce power, they have not shown that the individual mandate exceeds that power in all of its applications. Congress may apply the mandate in at least four settings: (1) to individuals who already have purchased insurance voluntarily and who want to maintain coverage, but who will be required to obtain more insurance in order to comply with the
minimum-essential-coverage requirement; (2) to individuals who voluntarily obtained coverage but do not wish to be forced (at some indeterminate point in the future) to maintain it; (3) to individuals who live in States that already require them to obtain insurance and who may have to obtain more coverage to comply with the mandate or abide by other requirements of the Affordable Care Act; and (4) to individuals under 30, no matter where they live and no matter whether they have purchased health care before, who may satisfy the law by obtaining only catastrophic-care coverage. The valid application of the law to these groups of people suffices to uphold the law against this facial challenge." (P.52)
Thus, Judge Sutton reserves the question of whether other plaintiffs, falling outside these categories, might successfully bring an as-applied challenge to the mandate.