The acting solicitor general for the United States today claimed in a federal appeals court hearing that Congress has the absolute power to order citizens to purchase consumer goods if lawmakers believe there is a national problem the purchases would address.

The comments from Neal Kumar Katyal validated the criticism of opponents who contend President Obama’s health care nationalization plan is unconstitutional.

The exchange came during arguments over Obama’s signature legislation, the Affordable Care Act, before a three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The judges were appointed by Democrats, including two by President Obama.

Several federal judges have affirmed the law is constitutional while others have declared it unconstitutional. The appeals court panel today heard arguments in two cases, including one Liberty University, represented by Liberty Counsel, brought against the government. It challenges the constitutionality of the individual mandate – the requirement that consumers buy insurance – as well as the employer mandate, which subjects employers to additional penalties.

The second case was brought by the state of Virginia, which is challenging the individual mandate. Lawmakers there adopted a state law protecting their residents from such a requirement.

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