The individual mandate portion of the Obama health law, which would require Americans to purchase a minimum level of health insurance starting in 2014, suffered another legal defeat Tuesday as a federal judge in Pennsylvania struck down the plan - and added another new voice to the legal battle.
"The power to regulate interstate commerce does not subsume the power to dictate a lifetime financial commitment to health insurance coverage," wrote Judge Christopher Conner.
It was a victory for critics of the Obama health law, bringing another case in a different judicial circuit into play, as this issue moves inexorably towards the U.S. Supreme Court.
"Based upon careful review of Commerce Clause jurisprudence, the court declares the individual mandate to be an unconstitutional extension of authority granted to the federal government," ruled Judge Conner.
This case would go next to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia, which has yet to weigh in on the Obama health law.
So far, three appellate courts have taken up the issue, with each one coming to a different conclusion:
The 11th Circuit ruled the individual mandate was unconstitutional
The 6th Circuit ruled in favor of the Obama health law
The 4th Circuit threw out two challenges to the law on technical grounds
This ruling does something even different, as while Judge Conner would get rid of the individual mandate, he also struck down two other provisions that are tied to the concept of having everyone purchase health insurance.
One plan is a high profile piece of the Obama health law, which requires coverage for people with pre-existing conditions; the other says that health insurance companies have to cover anyone who wants to buy an insurance policy.
This ruling is the first to tie those two to the individual mandate.
It may be that the Third Circuit never hears this case, since the clock seems to be ticking on review being granted by the U.S. Supreme Court, but nothing is set in stone as yet.