Federal Judge Robert Vinson, in a case that has pitted 26 states against the Obama administration, has ruled that the health care reform law is unconstitutional because the individual mandate violates the Commerce Clause.
“Judge Roger Vinson said as a result of the unconstitutionality of the ‘individual mandate’ that requires people to buy insurance, the entire law must be thrown out.
“‘I must reluctantly conclude that Congress exceeded the bounds of its authority in passing the Act with the individual mandate. That is not to say, of course, that Congress is without power to address the problems and inequities in our health care system. The health care market is more than one sixth of the national economy, and without doubt Congress has the power to reform and regulate this market. That has not been disputed in this case. The principal dispute has been about how Congress chose to exercise that power here,’ Vinson wrote. ‘Because the individual mandate is unconstitutional and not severable, the entire act must be declared void,’ he wrote.”
The ruling will almost certainly be appealed by the federal government, first to the appellate court in Atlanta and then, ultimately, the United States Supreme Court. The decision tracks a decision by a Virginia judge in a separate suit that ruled the individual mandate unconstitutional. Vinson’s ruling goes further by explicitly stating that the entire law must be thrown out.
Judge Vinson’s ruling is the latest act in a drama that started a year and a half ago as the Obama administration began to ram health care reform through a Democratic Congress over the objections of a healthy majority of the American people. The move helped to empower the Tea Party protest movement and led to the political tsunami last November that swept dozens of Democrats out of political office. The now Republican controlled House voted to repeal the health care reform bill. Repeal faces a dubious fate in the Senate and a certain veto by President Obama.
The ruling constitutes a political loss for the Obama administration and its allies on Capitol Hill of epic proportions. If the ruling is upheld by higher courts, the entire raison d’etre of the Obama presidency will be destroyed. Health care reform, also known as Obamacare, was to be President Obama’s signature act to transform American society more to his liking. Now, pending of course the final decision by the Supreme Court, the President will forever be known as a man who tried to jam down the throats of unwilling Americans an unconstitutional law. It is a bitter, horrible legacy for a President who was first elected with such promise and hope.
Sources: Judge Rules Health Care Law Is Unconstitutional, Fox News, January 31st, 2011
Obama Health Care Reform Individual Mandate Ruled Unconstitutional, Mark R. Whittington, Associated Content, December 13th, 2010
The House Votes to Repeal Health Care Reform; The End of the Beginning, Mark R. Whittington, Associated Content, January 20th, 2011