Florida judge rules entire health care law unconstitutional

health care law

A Florida judge has ruled the health care law unconstitutional in a state v. federal case that could ultimately end up before the Supreme Court. Image: dbaron/Flickr

A Florida judge has ruled against the health care law passed by Congress in 2010. U.S. District Court Judge Roger Vinson is the second judge to support a  suit against the health care law filed by attorneys general in 26 states. At issue is the individual mandate in the health care law requiring all Americans to buy health insurance, which Vinson ruled unconstitutional.

Individual mandate and the Commerce Clause

In his ruling that the individual mandate in the health care law is unconstitutional, U.S. District Court Judge Roger Vinson, a Reagan-appointed Republican, declared that the entire Affordable Care Act should be thrown out. Vinson said in requiring the individual mandate, Congress over-stepped its powers as limited by the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution. A similar ruling last month by a judge in Virgina also cited the Commerce Clause. However, Vinson takes it a step further by insisting that the entire health care law be voided. He concluded that the individual mandate and the rest of the law are “inextricably bound together in purpose and must stand or fall as a single unit.”

The Republican repeal strategy

Health care costs for the uninsured add up to about $43 billion a year. Because the government is stuck with the bill, the Obama administration contends the individual mandate is legitimate regulation. Because the individual mandate is intended to make financing health care reform possible, opponents of the law are focusing on that provision. The suit citing the Commerce Clause was initiated by 13 attorneys general — 12 Republicans and one Democrat. Since then, 13 more Republican attorneys general have jumped on the anti-health care bandwagon.

The constitutional argument supporting health care reform

The health care law is indeed constitutional, according to the Center for American Progress, a liberal-leaning Washington think tank. Jan. 18 the group issued a statement, signed by more than 125 legal scholars, that calls the individual mandate a tax provision and therefore constitutional. Opponents call it a fine. But according to the CAP, because the individual mandate requires Americans to either buy health insurance or pay a penalty, it is a tax. The Supreme Court has upheld the broad power of Congress to tax in the interests of the general welfare of the nation for 200 years.



Miami Herald

ABC News

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