Atlanta (CNN) -- A federal appeals court in Atlanta has ruled key portions of the sweeping health care reform bill passed last year to be unconstitutional.
The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals said the so-called individual mandate, the requirement that most Americans purchase health insurance by 2014 or face severe financial penalties, could not pass muster.
"The individual mandate exceeds Congress's enumerated commerce power and is unconstitutional," the court ruled. "This economic mandate represents a wholly novel and potentially unbounded assertion of congressional authority: the ability to compel Americans to purchase an expensive health insurance product they have elected not to buy, and to make them re-purchase that insurance product every month for their entire lives."
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The court, when it heard arguments in June, was openly skeptical about how the sweeping law championed by President Barack Obama would survive constitutional scrutiny.
"If we uphold the individual mandate in this case, are there any limits on congressional power?" asked Judge Joel Dubina.
Acting U.S. Solicitor General Neal Kumar Katyal presented the Department of Health and Human Services' case. He specifically addressed the individual mandate, saying it was a tax and, therefore, constitutional.
The massive lawsuit was brought by Florida and 25 other states.