A federal judge delivered another blow to the Obama Administration's health care law today ruling it is unconstitutional for the government to require Americans to purchase health insurance by the year 2014 or face a penalty. However, U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson went a step further. Because the individual mandate is uncontitutional, Vinson ruled the entire law is also unconstitutional. His ruling is in response to the lawsuit filed by Florida and 25 other states.
A separate federal judge in Virginia also ruled the individual mandate is unconstitutional, but determined the rest of the law could move forward. Two other judges have upheld the law sending mixed messages and keeping hope alive for both sides.
In his 78 page ruling, Judge Vinson said that if government can require people to buy health insurance it can also require them to do other things as well. "Congress could require that people buy and consume broccoli at regular intervals," he wrote.
Senior Obama Administration officials call the decision out of the mainstream of judicial opinion. One senior offical says, "this is not the last word by any means." The Department of Justice plans to appeal the ruling. Administration officials say implementation of the law will continue.
Critics of the law were quick to weigh in. House Speaker John Boehner, who filed an amicus brief in the case back in November, said:
"Today’s decision affirms the view, held by most of the states and a majority of the American people, that the federal government should not be in the business of forcing you to buy health insurance and punishing you if you don’t. It’s not only unconstitutional, it’s also unaffordable. This health care law remains a major source of uncertainty for small businesses, which is why all parties involved should request that this case be sent to the U.S. Supreme Court for a swift and fair resolution. Of course, the easiest way to protect the American people from this job-destroying health care law is to repeal it so we can start over with common-sense reforms that lower costs and protect jobs without unconstitutional mandates, new taxes, and costly penalties. The House has passed legislation to do just that, and I hope Senate Democratic leaders will bring up the measure for an up-or-down vote.”
Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli who filed the first lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the health care law says, "I am heartened by the fact that another federal judge has found that the individual mandate forcing citizens to buy private health insurance is unconstitutional. The judge also found that the individual mandate could not be severed from the remainder of the law, so he declared the entire act invalid."
He went on to say, "Constitutional principles have scored another victory today. Liberty has scored another victory today."
Bottom line: Stay tuned. The issue will eventually be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.