Today a Federal judge in Richmond struck down the individual mandate of the federal health care law as unconstitutional, dealing a devastating blow to Obamacare.
The lawsuit was filed by Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. It challenges the law’s requirement that citizens buy health insurance or pay a penalty starting in 2014. The lawsuit argues that the federal government doesn’t have the constitutional authority to impose the requirement.
From Ken Cuccinelli’s website (www.cuccinelli.com/index.php/healthcaredecision):
There were two basic arguments in this case.
First, Virginia argued that the individual mandate was beyond the power of Congress and the President to impose under the Constitution. Specifically, Congress claimed that their regulatory power under the Commerce Clause allowed them to order you to buy their government-approved health insurance, even if you decide not to buy health insurance.
The judge ruled that the federal government does not have the power to compel you to buy health insurance as part of its attempt to regulate the entire field of health care and health insurance. Thus, Virginia won this argument.
Second, the federal government advanced a ‘fallback’ argument in case it lost on its commerce clause argument. The feds’ fallback argument was that the financial penalty you have to pay if you don’t buy the government mandated health insurance is a tax.
This may sound like an odd argument from a political standpoint – usually they say everything is NOT a tax (in fact, they argued the penalty was not a tax while they were trying to get the bill passed); however, they changed position after the bill became law to try and save the bill. What they were trying to do was to get the courts to agree that because the penalty would presumably raise some revenue, it was therefore a ‘tax’ under the taxing and spending for the General Welfare Clause of the Constitution.
No judge in the country has bought this argument, and Judge Hudson was no exception. He ruled that the taxing power of Congress does not save the bill, because the penalty for not buying the mandated health insurance is not a tax.
The federal government only had to win on either of these two arguments, while Virginia needed to win both to prevail, and we won both!
This is the first judicial ruling against Obamacare.
It is ironic that the lawyers for the Federal government are now arguing that the mandate’s penalty is a tax when during the debate on the bill in Congress we were told explicitly that it was NOT a tax. To be fair though, how would our representatives know whether it was a tax or not? After all, Nancy Pelosi touted the main reason for passage of the bill was so that it could be read and understood. I’m sure they didn’t have time to read it while they were twisting the Senate and House rules and regulations into a pretzel in order to get it through.
It also raises a question. What else is in there that they claimed was not. Death Panels perhaps?
This is only the beginning of the court battles. There are other states, including Florida, which have similar lawsuits percolating their way up the judicial chain. Eventually the lawsuit(s) will reach the Supreme Court where a final verdict will be rendered. It’s possible they will be the “death panel” for government health care.
The ruling today will also give encouragement to the new Republican House majority in January. Those who seek to overturn parts, if not all, of Obamacare will have
more momentum going forward. .
Obamacare appears to be getting sick.
Is there a doctor in the house?