A federal judge in Florida has issued a new ruling in what is the largest lawsuit filed against the Obamacare health care law. U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson says the individual mandate is unconstitutional and, therefore, the entire law is as well.
Leading pro-life groups have opposed the Obamacare law because it allows massive abortion funding and prompts concerns about rationing of health care.
The individual mandate is a portion of the law independent and conservative voters most strongly oppose because it requires Americans to purchase health insurance, that could fund abortions with taxpayer funds or premiums, whether they want to or not. The case the state of Florida and more than two dozen others made to Judge Vinson is that the individual mandate is unconstitutional and the Constitution does not allow Congress to regular financial inactivity.
“Because the individual mandate is unconstitutional and not severable, the entire Act must be declared void,” the judge wrote. “This has been a difficult decision to reach, and I am aware that it will have indeterminable implications. At a time when there is virtually unanimous agreement that health care reform is needed in this country, it is hard to invalidate and strike down a statute titled ‘The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.'”
“Regardless of how laudable its attempts may have been to accomplish these goals in passing the act, Congress must operate within the bounds established by the Constitution,” the judge wrote. “This case is not about whether the Act is wise or unwise legislation. It is about the Constitutional role of the federal government.”
“Congress exceeded the bounds of its authority in passing the Act with individual mandate,” he added.
The Obama administration says it will appeal the decision to the U.S. Appeals Court based in Atlanta, Georgia. Judge Vinson did not stop the implementation of the law pending the appeal which could take two years to reach the Supreme Court and result in a decision.
Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, who headed a similar case in Virginia, responded to the decision and told LifeNews.com in a statement: “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. Constitutional principles have scored another victory today. Liberty has scored another victory today.”
David B. Kopel of the Independence Institute and a law professor at Denver University, said Vinson’s ruling is the right one.
Judge Vinson’s decision today vindicates the original meaning of the Constitution, and increases the already-high probability that the U.S. Supreme Court will choose to hear the legal challenges to the health control law. While some proponents of the federal law continue to claim that it has no constitutional problems, courts are recognizing that the bill was a usurpation of powers which were never granted to Congress,” he said.
Back in October, Judge Vinson issued a written ruling allowing the case to move forward and saying the court needs to issue a decision on the question of whether or not it is a violation of the Constitution to force Americans to purchase health care insurance.
“The individual mandate applies across the board. People have no choice and there is no way to avoid it,” he wrote. “Those who fall under the individual mandate either comply with it, or they are penalized. It is not based on an activity that they make the choice to undertake.”
“Of course, to say that something is “novel” and “unprecedented” does not necessarily mean that it is “unconstitutional” and “improper.” There may be a first time for anything. But, at this stage of the case, the plaintiffs have most definitely stated a plausible claim with respect to this cause of action,” he said.
During the hearing in December, David Rivkin, an attorney for the states, told Vinson, “The act would leave more constitutional damage in its wake than any other statute in our history.”
President Barack Obama’s administration countered that Americans should not be allowed to opt out of ObamaCare because every American requires medical care. They also claim the states do not have standing to file a lawsuit against ObamaCare and want the lawsuit thrown out and the case dismissed.
Other cases filed against the Obamacare health care law have seen mixed results.
Michigan District Judge George Caram Steeh in Detroit ruled in another case that the mandate to get insurance by 2014 and the penalties states face for not implementing ObamaCare fully are legal. A third lawsuit filed against ObamaCare is pending in Virginia, where a federal judge ruled against the individual mandate but not against the rest of the Obamacare legislation. However, the lack of severability in the legislation likely makes it so if the individual mandate is declared invalid the entire law is likely invalid.
U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson became the first federal judge to strike down a portion of the law when he sided with Virginia in its lawsuit saying the individual mandate is unconstitutional.
That case is likely to go to the U.S. Supreme Court and likely to be combined with the one in Florida and two others where federal judges have upheld the insurance requirement.
Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Indiana, Idaho, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and Washington joined Florida in the lawsuit. Earlier this month, six additional states joined them: Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Ohio, Wisconsin and Wyoming.