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Obamacare's mandate: Why it's closer to a Supreme Court ruling

A federal appeals court ruled Friday against the mandate that forces individuals to buy private health-care insurance. This will help push the high court to take the case soon. And it should help better define freedom in personal health choices.

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A key part of President Obama’s health-care law – a government mandate that anyone who can afford private health insurance must buy it by 2014 – is now ripe for a ruling by the Supreme Court.

On Friday, a federal appeals panel ruled against the mandate – only a few weeks after another appeals court ruled in favor of it. Rarely does the high court wait to resolve conflicting decisions among the regional appellate courts – especially on a hot-button issue like the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

The latest ruling, coming in a 2-to-1 decision by a panel of the 11th Circuit Court in Atlanta, provides the strongest legal arguments yet for what could be a similar Supreme Court ruling against the mandate, perhaps by early next year.

The panel’s majority found the mandate violates the limits set on Congress by the Constitution and previous court rulings – limits that are “first principles,” or those designed to protect individual liberties, the right of judicial review, and the powers granted to states.

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