Health-care reform: US judge allows Florida's challenge to Obama
Saying opponents of President Obama's health care reform law 'have most definitely stated a plausible claim,' a federal judge in Florida allows the key elements of the lawsuit to proceed.
A federal judge in Florida ruled on Thursday that a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of President Obama’s health-care reform law may move forward in the courts. A hearing in the case is scheduled for Dec. 16.Skip to next paragraph
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US District Judge Roger Vinson upheld the two most important of six counts in a lawsuit filed on behalf of officials in Florida and 19 other states. The suit alleges that the controversial health-care law and its individual mandate requiring health insurance exceeds Congress’s power under the commerce clause and other constitutional provisions.
“At this stage of the case, the plaintiffs have most definitely stated a plausible claim,” Judge Vinson said about the commerce clause challenge.
Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum, who is leading the states’ challenge to the law, said the ruling was an important victory. “It is the first step to having the individual mandate declared unconstitutional,” he said in a statement.
Supporters of the health-care measure said they were baffled that the judge had not tossed out the entire lawsuit.
“We are happy that Judge Vinson narrowed this lawsuit today, but what he really should have done is dismiss it altogether,” said Doug Kendall, president of the Constitutional Accountability Center in Washington.
The case, filed in federal court in Pensacola, is one of several lawsuits across the country challenging the president’s health-care reform effort.
Legal opponents of the health-care law are hoping the cases ultimately reach the Supreme Court.
At the heart of the lawsuits is the question of whether Congress has the power under the Constitution’s commerce clause to order Americans to purchase certain products – like federally-approved health insurance – or pay a fine.
Opponents of the health-care law say Congress has the power to regulate economic activity among the states. But they say rather than regulating economic activity, the health-care law seeks to regulate inactivity, which would expand congressional power beyond any prior recognized limits.
In upholding the law last week in a Michigan case, US District Judge George Steeh said the Supreme Court had consistently rejected claims that those who choose not to engage in commerce place themselves beyond the reach of the commerce clause.