Appeals Court Fast-Tracks Obamacare Challenge

By Dan Joseph | March 24, 2011 | 11:32 AM EDT

A hearse labeled ‘Obamacare’ joins the Tea Party march on Washington on Saturday, Sept. 12, 2009. ( Starr)

( - A federal appeals court has cleared the way for a legal challenge to Obamacare to be put on a fast-track through the appeals courts -- on its way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

This decision will expedite the legal process that is necessary for federal courts to rule on the legislation’s constitutionality.

Last Thursday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit granted a motion by The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) to fast-track an appeal of a decision by a federal district court in February that dismissed its lawsuit against Obamacare.

In the lawsuit, the ACLJ argued that that Congress did not have the power under the Constitution to require Americans to purchase health insurance and that the mandate also violated the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993.

In February, U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler rejected the lawsuit, ruling that the government had the right to regulate health care under the Constitution’s Commerce clause. The judge also ruled that religious objections to the bill were too minor of an issue to require invalidation of the law and that even if it does place a substantial burden on a few followers of certain religious beliefs, those beliefs are overridden by the “compelling government interest” in a health care mandate.

In an interview with, ACLJ Senior Counsel Ed White explained that Thursday’s ruling allowing for an expedited appeal of Kessler’s ruling will ensure that the Supreme Court will hear the case before Obamacare is completely implemented.

“The case is now on an expedited process through the court of appeals, rather than the normal process, which can take months before you even get to (file) your brief and months and months -- and sometimes even up to a year -- before there’s oral arguments,” said White.

“The sooner we get a decision from the Supreme Court, the better for everyone, because small businesses right now are going to have to start to change how they are giving health care to their employees and to look into this, spend a lot of money looking at that. The states are now spending a lot of time and effort getting into compliance, so if Obamacare is eventually found unconstitutional then you’ve wasted all this time and money.”

White says the he fully expects to win the case saying that any law that forces Americans to buy any product from a private company is unconstitutional and that if the court upheld Obamacare’s mandate it would fundamentally change the principles upon which the nation was founded.

“If Congress gets this power -- in affect these police powers to require Americans to buy things--the nature and structure of our government is going to be over as we know it -- we’ll no longer be the United States of America as we’ve known it for the last 230 some odd years, we’re going to be something different,” White said.

White also pointed out that even if the Supreme Court finds Obamacare to be unconstitutional, people of certain faiths would still have a separate lawsuit on religious grounds against the law.

“For example with our clients who are faith healers, they don’t believe that they need to go to a doctor,” said White. “They don’t believe they need health insurance because whatever happens to them, they rely on God. One of the clients, even if he has a heart attack, his wife is under instructions not to call 911 but to pray. If God wants him to survive that heart attack that’s the way it’s going to be.

“For someone like him, he’s going to have to spend hundreds of dollars -- if not thousands --every year for the rest of his life to buy health insurance which he doesn’t need. He now is being penalized by the government hundreds -- if not thousands -- of dollars by the government simply because he is exercising his religious faith.”

The health-care law was passed one year ago this week. It is unclear exactly when the case will come up before the appeals court or whether the case will reach the Supreme Court before the 2012 presidential election.