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Eighth Circuit Rejects Affordable Care Act Appeal

By Robyn Hagan Cain on October 05, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

If your life has felt a little empty without an Affordable Care Act to discuss, this Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals opinion may help fill the void.

Thursday, the Eighth Circuit ruled that a group of seven plaintiffs, including Missouri Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder, lacked standing to challenge various provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

According to the appellate court, the plaintiffs lacked standing. (And their claims were sooo last term.)

The plaintiffs were challenging, among other things, the Affordable care Act's individual mandate. They raised two claims: (1) that Congress exceeded its authority under the Commerce Clause and the taxing power when it promulgated the mandate, and (2) that the mandate violates the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment by abrogating their rights under the Missouri Health Care Freedom Act, which provides that "no law or rule shall compel, directly or indirectly, any person, employer, or health care provider to participate in any health care system."

The provision at issue requires individuals to maintain "minimum essential" health care coverage. Beginning in 2014, individuals who are not exempt and who do not comply must pay the government a "shared responsibility payment," which the Supreme Court identified as a "tax" for purposes of Congress's taxing power.

The district court dismissed the lawsuit, ruling that the plaintiffs lacked standing.

The lead plaintiffs, Kinder and Samantha Hill, argued their appeal to the Eighth Circuit before the Supreme Court granted certiorari in the healthcare cases; once the Nine granted cert, the appellate court held the case pending a Supreme Court decision.

After the Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act, Kinder and Hill continued their appeal, and supplemented their briefs with statements of position on their appeal in light of Sebelius. Their amended complaint asked the court to declare provisions of the Act unconstitutional and to enjoin the government from enforcing those sections against the plaintiffs.

Once again, the district court concluded that the plaintiffs lacked standing. This time, the Eighth Circuit affirmed that decision.

If you're disappointed that the excitement of a new healthcare challenge was extinguished before you had a chance to enjoy it, there may be more healthcare fun on the horizon. On Monday, SCOTUSblog reported that the Supreme Court opened its new term by asking the federal government to offer its views on whether the way should be cleared for new constitutional challenges to the federal health care law -- including a new protest against the individual mandate.

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