Pennsylvania District Court Finds Individual Mandate Unconstitutional

On September 13, 2011, the United States District Court of the Middle District of Pennsylvania held that the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate was unconstitutional as a violation of the Commerce Clause. In Goudy-Bachman v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, No. 1:10-CV-763 (M.D. Pa. Sept. 13, 2011), the court found, similar to its predecessors in other courts, that the federal government was one of limited enumerated powers and that “Congress [could not] invoke its Commerce Clause power to compel individuals to buy insurance as a condition of lawful citizenship or residency.” Thus, although the court recognized that “[t]he nation undoubtedly faces a health care crisis,” it severed the individual mandate, the guaranteed issue, and preexisting conditions reforms from the Affordable Care Act as unconstitutional. However, because the provisions found unconstitutional were severed from the Affordable Care Act, this decision allows the rest of the Act to stay intact and operative. The full decision is available at http://www.pamd.uscourts.gov/opinions/conner/10v763a.pdf.