'Obamacare's' Fate Uncertain after Latest Ruling

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THE SUPREME COURT -- Of the thousands of petitions the U.S. Supreme Court receives each year, only about 100 get to present their cases before the justices in oral arguments.
    
Many legal analysts believe among the cases the high court will consider this term will be recent rulings on President Obama's health care reform law.

"Here you have more than half of the states suing the federal government," noted Robert Alt, a senior legal fellow and deputy director of the Center for Legal and Judicial Studies at The Heritage Foundation.

Jay Sekulow, chief counsel at the American Center for Law and Justice, offered his insights on the future of the controversial health care law on "The 700 Club," Aug. 16. Click play for his comment following John Jessup's report.

"I can't remember - in recent memory, and when I say recent memory - stretching back well over 100 years looking at cases - seeing any case in which you had that fact pattern," he said.
   
The latest ruling by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals addresses a central legal question: Can the government tell Americans what they must buy?
    
On Friday, the court said no, striking down the law's requirement for all Americans to have health insurance.

"Congress cannot mandate that individuals enter into contracts with private insurance companies for the purchase of an expensive product from the time they are born until the time they die," the judges wrote in the 2 to 1 majority opinion.

The judicial panel called the individual mandate "breathtaking and expansive" with no "'limiting principles' to confine congressional power."
   
The 11th Circuit was essentially saying Congress was overstepping its constitutional power by forcing people to buy a certain product, in this case, health insurance.
        
But on the whole, the courts are sending mixed signals.
    
Earlier this year, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the law. An appeal is pending, which would likely affect other legal challenges concerning the law.

"If the 6th Circuit case gets accepted by the Court, the Supreme Court could simply go ahead and pull up all the other cases that are currently pending before the Courts of Appeals that it wants to hear," Alt told CBN News.

"And almost certainly it would want to hear this case involving more than half the states," he added.
    
Because the health care law gives Congress enormous authority in the lives of everyday Americans, the justices may well be thinking about future cases and applications beyond just health care.
    
Also, some analysts believe that the high court may only strike down the mandate and take away Congress's ability to force Americans to buy health insurance. But that could mean an uncertain future for the rest of the law.

"There is a good chance the Supreme Court will take a very restrained view," Alt predicted. "They'll cut out the mandate and very likely leave a lot of the other provisions standing."

"What that's going to do," he explained, "is create a lot of work for Congress and the president thereafter to figure out what they're going to do with the mess that remains."

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John Jessup serves as the main news anchor for CBN, a position he assumed after 10 years reporting for the network in Washington, D.C. His work in broadcast news has earned him several awards in reporting, producing, and coordinating elections coverage. Follow John on Twitter @JohnCBNNews and "like" him at Facebook.com/John.V.Jessup.