McCaughey Whitewashes Rulings Upholding Health Care Law

In a New York Post column, Betsy McCaughey hyped a recent federal appeals court ruling striking down the constitutionality of the individual mandate provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). But McCaughey, who has a long history of misinforming on health care, ignored several rulings that upheld the law or rejected challenges, including a federal appeals court decision upholding the individual mandate in which a Bush appointee was in the majority.

McCaughey Hypes Recent Ruling Against Individual Mandate

McCaughey: Court “Opinion Gutted Core Legal And Policy Arguments For The Law.” In an August 14 New York Post column, former New York Lt. Gov. Betsy McCaughey wrote:

On Friday, a federal appeals court ruled that the Obama health law's requirement that every American buy health insurance is unconstitutional -- bringing the legal challenge to Obama-Care much closer to the US Supreme Court.

This is the highest profile of the several cases winding their way through the courts, filed by 26 states as well as several private parties soon after the Affordable Care Act was enacted in March 2010.

The ruling was “bipartisan.” Judge Frank Hull, appointed by President Bill Clinton, joined Judge Joel Dubina, appointed by George H.W. Bush, in a thunderous denunciation of the administration's claims. The opinion gutted core legal and policy arguments for the law. [New York Post, 8/14/11]

But McCaughey Ignored Several Court Cases Upholding The Law Or Dismissing Challenges, Including One In Which A Bush Appointee Ruled In Favor Of Mandate

By A 2-1 Vote, The Sixth Circuit Upheld The Constitutionality Of The Individual Mandate. In Thomas More Law Center v. Obama, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit held, by a 2-to-1 vote, that the provision of the Affordable Care Act mandating that individuals purchase health insurance does not violate the Constitution. The majority consisted of 6th Circuit judges Boyce Martin and Jeffrey Sutton. District Judge James Graham, acting as a 6th Circuit judge in this case, dissented. [Thomas More Law Center v. Obama, 6/29/11]

Sutton Was Appointed To The Bench By Bush Over The Opposition Of 41 Of 48 Senate Democrats. Sutton was appointed by President Bush in 2003 after a Senate vote in which 41 of the 48 Democrats and the one independent in the Senate opposed his nomination. [, 4/29/03]

  • For more information on Sutton's background as a staunch proponent of states' rights, SEE HERE.

Eastern District Of Michigan Also Ruled Against Thomas More Law Center. Prior to the 6th Circuit's ruling, Judge George Steeh of the Eastern District of Michigan ruled the individual mandate and the health care reform law constitutional. From The Washington Post:

A federal judge in Michigan ruled Thursday that the new health-care overhaul law is constitutional, rejecting an argument that Congress lacked the power to create the legislation's “individual mandate,” which requires virtually all Americans to purchase health insurance.


Steeh found that “far from 'inactivity,' by choosing to forgo insurance, plaintiffs are making an economic decision to try to pay for health-care services later, out of pocket, rather than now through the purchase of insurance, collectively shifting billions of dollars . . . onto other market participants.” Therefore, Steeh ruled, regulating this decision falls well within the scope of Congress's authority to regulate the health insurance market.

The judge also echoed the administration's contention that unless young and healthy people are required to purchase coverage, the pool of those who are insured would be skewed toward the sick, making it impossible for insurers to comply with protections such as the law's prohibition on discriminating against those with preexisting conditions. [The Washington Post, 10/7/10]

District Court Of Western Virginia “Upheld The Constitutionality Of The New Health Care Law.” A November 30, 2010, New York Times article reported that the U.S. District Court of the Western District of Virginia “upheld the constitutionality of the new health care law” in a case brought by Liberty University. From The New York Times:

For the second time in two months, a federal judge has upheld the constitutionality of the new health care law, ruling on Tuesday that the requirement that most Americans obtain medical coverage falls within Congress's authority to regulate interstate commerce.

The judge, Norman K. Moon of Federal District Court, who sits in Lynchburg, Va., issued a 54-page ruling that granted the government's request to dismiss a lawsuit brought by Liberty University, the private Christian college founded by the Rev. Jerry Falwell. Last month, in a separate case, Judge George C. Steeh of Federal District Court in Detroit also upheld the law.


Judge Moon rejected the argument by plaintiffs around the country that the Commerce Clause of the Constitution does not empower Congress to require Americans to buy a commercial product like health insurance. To do so, they argue, would amount to the regulation of inactivity.

In disagreeing, Judge Moon embraced arguments made by the Justice Department. “Far from 'inactivity,' ” he wrote, “by choosing to forgo insurance, plaintiffs are making an economic decision to try to pay for health care services later, out of pocket, rather than now, through the purchase of insurance.” [The New York Times, 11/30/10]

District Court Of District Of Columbia Rejected Challenge To Health Care Law. From a February 23 Bloomberg article:

The Obama administration's health- care reform law survived a constitutional challenge in federal court in Washington, marking the third U.S. victory against cases seeking to block the measure.

U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler yesterday dismissed a lawsuit brought in June by five individuals who claimed the provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act requiring people to procure minimum insurance coverage starting in 2014 is unconstitutional.

In a 64-page opinion, Kessler said Congress was acting “within the bounds” of its constitutional Commerce Clause power when it imposed the insurance requirement. [Bloomberg, 2/23/11]

McCaughey Has A Long History Of Misinforming On Health Care

McCaughey Has A History Of Promoting Health Care Falsehoods. McCaughey has a history of promoting misinformation about health care reform, including that the bill “forces you to enroll” in a health care plan “whether you can afford it or not”; that the law lets the government “dictate how doctors treat privately insured patients”; and the claim that the waiver process is being manipulated to benefit political allies of the administration. [Media Matters, 2/14/11]

  • For more information on McCaughey's false claims about the health care reform law, SEE HERE.

McCaughey Named “Health Care Misinformer Of The Year.” McCaughey was Media Matters' 2009 “Health Care Misinformer of the Year” for relentlessly attacking health care reform by spreading falsehoods and distortions through opinion pieces and television appearances at nearly every stage of the debate. [Media Matters, 12/16/09]

Right-Wing Media Have A History Of Only Reporting On Successful Health Care Legal Challenges

Fox Ignored Previous Rulings To Focus On Federal Judge Ruling Against Health Care Law. On December 13, 2010, Fox News' coverage of Florida District Court Judge Henry Hudson's ruling against health care reform almost completely ignored previous rulings upholding the law. [Media Matters, 12/14/10]

Fox Exclusively Hosted Health Care Law Opponents To Comment On VA Ruling. Following federal Judge Roger Vinson's ruling that the individual mandate makes health care reform unconstitutional, Fox News' Fox & Friends exclusively hosted health care reform opponents to comment on the ruling. [Media Matters, 2/1/11]