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National Federation of Independent Business prevails in constitutional challenge to individual health-insurance mandate

June 2012

Jones Day represented the National Federation of Independent Business ("NFIB") and other private parties in the landmark legal challenge to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, based on the Act's mandate that legally compelled virtually every American to obtain health insurance. On appeal in the Eleventh Circuit, NFIB obtained the first ruling by a federal appellate court that the individual mandate is unconstitutional. Reflecting the profound constitutional questions and sweeping practical implications, the Supreme Court then scheduled the case for six hours of oral argument over three days, which is virtually unprecedented in the modern era.

A majority of the Supreme Court accepted NFIB's argument that Congress lacks the authority to compel individuals to purchase insurance (or other products) under the commerce power act“ an important victory for individual liberty, and also a significant restriction on federal power. Although a different majority of the Supreme Court then upheld the individual mandate by recharacterizing it as a tax, even that loss will have a significant positive practical impact - namely that individuals are now free to make the lawful choice whether or not to buy insurance. Finally, the four dissenting Justices who would not have upheld the mandate under either the commerce or tax power also accepted NFIB's arguments that the entire Act had to fall if the mandate was invalid, creating persuasive authority for future cases concerning severability.

National Federation of Independent Business, et al. v. Sebelius, et al.,132 S. Ct. 2566 (2012)

For additional information about this matter, please contact: Michael A. Carvin

Client(s): National Federation of Independent Business
Practice(s): Issues & Appeals
Office(s): Washington