Judge declares Obama health-care law 'void' in its entirety
A federal judge in Florida rules that the health-care law passed by Congress last year is unconstitutional. Three other federal judges have also ruled on the health-care law – one against, two in favor – setting up a potential Supreme Court showdown.
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US District Judge Roger Vinson declared the 2,700-page reform measure “void” in its entirety, while concluding that the law’s individual mandate requiring all Americans to buy a government-approved level of health insurance was a “bridge too far.”
“The individual mandate falls outside the boundary of Congress’s commerce clause authority and cannot be reconciled with a limited government of enumerated powers,” Judge Vinson wrote.
The action, if upheld on appeal, means that Congress would have to return to the drawing board to draft a significantly different version of health-care reform.
Vinson is the second judge to strike down the health-care law’s individual mandate requiring all Americans who can afford it to purchase health insurance or pay a penalty.
Two other judges have upheld the constitutionality of the health-care reform law.
The conflicting rulings have set the stage for legal battles in the federal appellate courts and perhaps, eventually, at the US Supreme Court.
26 states sued
The decision stems from a lawsuit filed on behalf of Florida and 25 other states challenging the constitutionality of the health-care reform law. Two weeks ago, the House of Representatives voted 245 to 189 to repeal the law. But the Senate is not expected to follow suit, and President Obama would almost certainly veto any repeal law passed by Congress.
Meanwhile, court challenges are continuing.
The central question in the case was whether Congress has the power to order Americans to purchase a private product or service.
The Constitution’s commerce clause provides the authority for Congress to “regulate commerce … among the several states.” But does the power to pass regulations affecting interstate commerce authorize a federal order that Americans must purchase health insurance or pay a penalty?