Aug 12, 2011 1:47 PM by Kirsten Bennett
ATLANTA (AP) - A federal appeals court has struck down the requirement in President Barack Obama's health care overhaul package that virtually all Americans must carry health insurance or face penalties.
A divided three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday struck down the so-called individual mandate, siding with 26 states that had sued to block the law.
But the decision didn't go as far as a lower court that had invalidated the entire overhaul as unconstitutional.
The states and other critics say the law violates people's rights. The Justice Department counters that the legislative branch was exercising a "quintessential" power.
An appeals court and three federal judges have upheld the law, and two have invalidated it. Experts say the debate ultimately will be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.