Appeals court briefs filed in healthcare law challenge

The plaintiffs in the 26-state challenge against the healthcare reform law filed their briefs in the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday.

Florida, the lead plaintiff, argued that the law unconstitutionally infringes on individual freedoms, exceeds Congress’s enumerated powers, and coerces the states in violation of the Tenth Amendment. The brief challenges both the law's individual mandate that everyone have health insurance and its vast expansion of Medicaid.

It goes on to argue that the whole law should be struck down if part of it are found to be unconstitutional.

"There is no basis for suggesting that the mandate is severable from some but not all of the core, interrelated health insurance reforms – and the government is careful not to do so in this Court, and not to argue that Congress would have enacted any of the ACA’s core insurance reforms without the individual mandate," the brief reads.

The National Federation of Independent Business, a co-plaintiff, also filed a brief challenging the law.

"Congress does not have the power to dictate that its citizens engage in a specific area of commerce," Karen Harned, executive director of NFIB's Small Business Legal Center, said in a statement Wednesday. "The individual mandate in the health care law does not regulate commerce itself nor does it regulate a class of economic activities that substantially affect interstate commerce. Instead, for the first time, the mandate compels all Americans to engage in commerce and divert precious resources to buy a product they neither need nor want."

Federal Judge Roger Vinson ruled Jan. 31 that the entire law should be struck down after finding its individual mandate unconstitutional. The appeals court is scheduled to hear oral arguments June 8.

Update: This post was updated at 4:30 p.m. with references to Florida's brief.