Federal Court Strikes Down Individual Mandate In Health Care Law
In Pensacola, Florida today, US District Judge Roger Vinson declared the individual mandate for health care in the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional. Vinson is a Reagan appointee.
With this ruling, and a similar one in December by Judge Henry Hudson in Virgina, it’s likely that the U.S. Supreme Court will be the final arbiter of whether ObamaCare stands. (Two other lawsuits–one in Michigan and one in Virginia–were thrown out by other federal district judges last year who disagreed with the constitutional challenge.)
Henry Hudson, the Virginia judge who ruled in favor of that state’s legal challenge, focused on whether Congress has the ability, via the Commerce Clause, to force uninsured people to buy insurance. He concluded that it does not. Vinson, on the other hand, signaled in an earlier ruling that he was interested in whether the federal fine for not buying insurance is a tax or a penalty. If it’s a penalty, the legislation relies on a broad Commerce Clause interpretation. If it’s a tax, it’s much more difficult to make a constitutional claim against it.
In today’s ruling he writes: “Because the individual mandate is unconstitutional and not severable, the entire Act must be declared void. This has been a difficult decision to reach, and I am aware that it will have indeterminable implications.”Click here for reuse options!
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