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The Affordable Care Act Is Constitutional

Although many lawsuits have challenged the Affordable Care Act’s minimum coverage provision, Congress does, in fact, have the constitutional authority to enact such a provision.

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Nearly three dozen judges have now considered challenges to the landmark Affordable Care Act and the overwhelming majority of these cases have been dismissed. Nevertheless, a single outlier judge in Virginia has embraced the meritless arguments against the new health care law and another judge in Florida also appears poised to break with the overwhelming consensus of his colleagues.

With only a few exceptions, these lawsuits principally challenge the Affordable Care Act’s minimum coverage provision—the provision requiring most Americans to either carry health insurance or pay slightly more income taxes—falsely arguing that Congress lacks the constitutional authority to enact such a provision. It is true that Congress’s authority is limited to an itemized list of powers contained in the text of the Constitution itself, but while Congress’s powers are not unlimited, they are still quite sweeping. There is no doubt that the Affordable Care Act fits within these enumerated powers in three ways, as Ian Millhiser’s new issue brief, "Clearly Constitutional," demonstrates.

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