No matter where you stand on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the man of the hour now, palpably, is 6th U.S. Circuit Judge Jeffrey Sutton, an aptly self-described “middle-management judge.” The 2003 appointee of President George W. Bush, the former law clerk to United States Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, surprised some in the legal world Wednesday when he broke ranks with his fellow conservative jurists and endorsed the constitutionality of the controversial health care law.
Judge Sutton’s opinion, which spanned pages 27 to 53 of a 64-page ruling, broke a 1-1 tie on the three-judge panel. Like his colleague, 6th Circuit Court Judge Boyce Martin, the lone Democratic appointee on the panel, Judge Sutton ruled that the Care Act, for now anyway, represents a valid exercise of Congressional power under the Commerce Clause of the Constitution. “In my opinion,” he wrote simply, “the government has the better of the arguments.”
The resulting decision is the first of four federal appeals court rulings we will see this summer on the Affordable Care Act and it marks a significant victory for the Obama Administration and other supporters of the health care measure. But few will remember Judge Sutton’s ruling or rationale a year or so from now when the Supreme Court finally ends the furious debate with a ruling of its own. So, before this life-tenured jurist recedes back into obscurity, let’s take a closer look at what he’s just done.
Read the full article here: