Judge Roger Vinson of Florida, appointed by the late President Ronald Reagen in 1983, ruled today that the Health Care Reform Act (sometimes called ObamaCare) was unconstitutional.
He is the second Federal Judge to do so, and his ruling helps in clearing the way to a decision that will almost absolutely end up at the foot of the Supreme Court. Unlike his Virginia counterpart Judge Henry Hudson, Judge Vinson ruled that the entire health care act should fall if the appellate courts join him in invalidating the insurance requirement.
“It is difficult to imagine that a nation which began, at least in part, as the result of opposition to a British mandate giving the East India Company a monopoly and imposing a nominal tax on all tea sold in America would have set out to create a government with the power to force people to buy tea in the first place.”….
…”For example, virtually no one can opt out of the housing market (broadly defined) and a majority of people will at some point buy a home. The vast majority of those homes will be financed with a mortgage, a large number of which (particularly in difficult economic times, as we have seen most recently) will go into default, thereby cost-shifting billions of dollars to third parties and the federal government. Should Congress thus have power under the Commerce Clause to preemptively regulate and require individuals above a certain income level to purchase a home financed with a mortgage (and secured with mortgage guaranty insurance) in order to add stability to the housing and financial markets (and to guard against the possibility of future cost-shifting because of a defaulted mortgage), on the theory that most everyone is currently, or inevitably one day will be, active in the housing market?”
From the Ruling of The Honorable Judge Roger Vinson Case 3:10-cv-00091-RV -EMT Document 150 Filed 01/31/11
Judge Vinson held that the insurance requirement exceeds the regulatory powers granted to Congress under the Commerce Clause of the Constitution. He also wrote that the provision could not be rescued by an associated clause in Article I that gives Congress broad authority to make laws “necessary and proper” to carrying out its designated responsibilities.
The federal government argued that Congress has a right to regulate the insurance market because it is unique— it’s fair to assume that every single person will need health care at one point in his or her life. If they’re not insured, their costs will have to get picked up by other consumers, driving up rates for everyone and putting them in the insurance market whether they plan to or not.
“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,…While the individual mandate was clearly ‘necessary and essential’ to the act as drafted, it is not ‘necessary and essential’ to health care reform in general…Because the individual mandate is unconstitutional and not severable, the entire act must be declared void.”
The decision will likely face an immediate filing by the federal government for a stay, and the case is undoubtedly headed to the Supreme Court.