A federal appeals court in Cincinnati, Ohio, gave President Obama a victory on his healthcare plan Wednesday, ruling that a key part of the law was constitutional.
The three judge panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit of Appeals upheld an earlier ruling that Congress can require Americans to buy insurance.
"As long as Congress does not exceed the established limits of its Commerce Power, there is no constitutional impediment to enacting legislation that could be characterized as regulating inactivity," the panel said in their decision.
"Congress had a rational basis for concluding that the minimum coverage provision is essential to the Affordable Care Act's larger reforms to the national markets in health care delivery and health insurance," Judge Boyce Martin wrote.
U.S. District Judge James Graham, a GOP appointee, was the lone dissenter.
"If the exercise of power is allowed and the mandate upheld, it is difficult to see what the limits on Congress' Commerce Clause authority would be," he argued. "What aspect of human activity would escape federal power?"
Currently, four lawsuits against the individual mandate to purchase health care are working their way through the appeals process and are expected to reach the U.S. Supreme Court.
Texas and 25 other states are all suing to stop the mandate.
"In the history of our country, Congress has never passed a law forcing Americans to go out and purchase a product. In this case, that's exactly what Congress did," Texas Attorney General Gregg Abbott charged.
"More than half of the states in this country are suing to challenge the legality of the bill," Abbott noted. "This is a piece of legislation that an overwhelming majority of Americans are against, but yet are having forced down their throats, contrary to their individual liberty."
The high court will likely rule on the health care law and the individual mandate by next summer - just in time to make it an even bigger issue in the 2012 presidential election.