Willamette Law Online

United States Supreme Court Certiorari Granted


National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: November 14, 2011
Case #: 11-393
648 F.3d 1235 (11th Cir. 2011)
Full Text Opinion: http://www.ca11.uscourts.gov/opinions/ops/201111021.pdf

Constitutional Law: Whether the entire Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act must be invalidated because its mandate requiring individuals to obtain health insurance is nonseverable from the remainder of the Act.

(Consolidated with question three in Florida v. Department of Health and Human Services (11-400) for ninety minutes of argument on this question.)

Congress passed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which comprehensively restructured and reformed the health care system. The Act contains a provision that mandates virtually every American must maintain minimum health insurance or face a financial penalty. The National Federation of Independent Business, two private citizens, and 26 states filed suit in federal court challenging the Act's constitutionality, asserting that the Act exceeds Congress's power under Article I of the Constitution.

The district court struck down the entire Act, holding that the individual mandate is nonseverable because it represents an essential part of Congress's reform efforts and because the remainder of the Act could not survive independently. The district court entered a declaratory judgment that the entire Act is void, but stayed its judgment pending appeal. The 11th Circuit reversed the district court's decision regarding severability, holding that although the individual mandate is facially unconstitutional, it is severable from the remainder of the Act because the Act contains numerous stand-alone provisions which lack connection to the individual mandate.