Monday, December 13, 2010

Breaking: Federal Judge rules against parts of health care law

CNN reports :
Washington (CNN) – A federal judge in Virginia has ruled parts of the sweeping health care reform effort led by President Obama to be unconstitutional. This is the first federal court to strike down the law, contradicting other recent rulings the law was permissible. The key issue of contention was the "individual mandate" requirement that most Americans purchase health insurance by 2014.
This ruling was expected to go against the administration as The Wall Street Journal reports:
The ruling by District Judge Henry E. Hudson is perhaps the most significant so far among a slew of state-based legal challenges to the law, which also faces attack by newly resurgent Republicans in Congress. More than 20 federal lawsuits have been filed against the health overhaul since President Barack Obama signed it in March.

While the cases differ somewhat, they largely rest on the argument that Congress lacks constitutional authority to require most Americans to carry health insurance or pay a fee. The Obama administration counters that three clauses of the Constitution gave Congress the power to put the requirement, known as the individual mandate, in the law as part of regulating how people pay for health care.
Supporters of the law are bracing for defeats in Virginia and in Florida. Judges Hudson and Vinson have both shown sympathy to the plaintiffs' arguments and are GOP appointees.

Two other federal judges, in separate lawsuits in Michigan and Virginia, have already ruled in the administration's favor on the individual-mandate question. Those cases, along with the other federal cases challenging the law, have a narrower base of plaintiffs than the suits brought in Florida and before Judge Hudson in Virginia.
Read the  rest for background on  the Virginia case as  well as the case brought in Florida which is likely to garner another ruling against the law later this week.  This is unlikely to stop the health care law in its tracks but it does open up a path to challenge the law in higher courts.  Stay tuned...

From NRO - Eric Cantor calls on Obama and AG Holder to send the case directly to SCOTUS:
“To ensure an expedited process moving forward, I call on President Obama and Attorney General Holder to join Attorney General Cuccinelli in requesting that this case be sent directly to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Though I doubt Obama or his JD will support a fast track to the Supreme Court they would be helping to resolve the uncertainty that will surround the law for the next few years if they heeded Cantor's request.  If they are confident of their position why not resolve the constitutionality question ASAP?

Here is a pdf of the ruling:  Ed Morrissey spots the crux of the judges sentiments in this AP report:
Hudson rejected the government’s argument that it has the power under the Constitution to require individuals to buy health insurance, a provision that was set to take effect in 2014.
“Of course, the same reasoning could apply to transportation, housing or nutritional decisions,” Hudson wrote. “This broad definition of the economic activity subject to congressional regulation lacks logical limitation” and is unsupported by previous legal cases around the Commerce Clause of the Constitution.

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