Reactions to ObamaCare ruling
As you can imagine, there are a lot of opinions on the ruling issued yesterday by U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson finding essential provisions of ObamaCare, such as the individual mandate, to be unconstitutional.
The Obama Administation obviously voiced its disagreement with the decision in during Robert Gibbs daily meeting with the press and in this statement:
Today’s narrow ruling in Virginia on the constitutionality of a provision of the Affordable Care Act is just one of many recent rulings on similar cases that have come down in recent months. Since the law passed, opponents of reform have filed more than 20 different legal challenges. Judges have already granted the Administration’s motion to dismiss 12 of these cases. And in two cases, federal judges looked at the merits of the opponents’ arguments, determined that the Affordable Care Act is constitutional and upheld the law.
We disagree with the ruling issued today in Virginia and the Department of Justice is considering its appeal options.
We are pleased that Judge Hudson agrees that implementation of the law will continue uninterrupted. In the nine months since the health reform law was passed, we’ve made tremendous progress to strengthen our health care system, including lowering costs and implementing a new patient’s bill of rights to end some of the worst insurance company abuses. That work continues. And we’re confident that when it’s all said and done, the courts will find the Affordable Care Act constitutional.
Yes, there have been two cases where constitutional challenges to ObamaCare have been dismissed, Liberty University v. Geithner and Thomas More Law Center v. Obama. However, both cases are on appeal. Other cases have been dismissed due to lack of standing.
And the reason that Judge Hudson did not issue an injunction against implementation is because the individual mandate doesn’t go into effect until 2014. The Supreme Court will likely have ruled on the legitmacy of the law by then.
Additionally, the two cases where ObamaCare was upheld were before judges appoints by Bill Clinton. Of course, it seems like everyone is quick point out that Hudson was appointed by George W. Bush.
Speaker-to-be John Boehner was pleased with the ruling:
[Yesterday]’s decision is an encouraging sign for families and small business owners who have revolted against President Obama’s job-killing health care law and called for its repeal. Instead of appealing this decision, the Obama Administration should work with Congress to repeal this job-killing health care law so we can replace it with reforms that lower costs and protect jobs. This would be the easiest way to keep ObamaCare from costing our economy more jobs. Republicans have made a pledge to America to repeal this job-killing health care law, and that’s what we’re going to do.
The individual mandate at the heart of ObamaCare puts the federal government in the business of forcing you to buy health insurance and taxing you if you don’t. This is unwise, unaffordable, and as we have argued all along, unconstitutional. If Washington thinks it can get away with this kind of power grab, it will think it can do anything. Cash-strapped states should carefully weigh the benefits of investing time and resources in ObamaCare’s implementation now that its central mandate has been ruled unconstitutional.
The administration had argued that Congress had authority to enact and enforce the individual mandate to buy health insurance under its power to regulate interstate commerce. But Judge Hudson responded that “Neither the Supreme Court nor any federal circuit court of appeals has extended Commerce Clause powers to compel an individual to involuntarily enter the stream of commerce by purchasing a commodity in the private market.” Indeed, he noted, the administration’s reasoning could apply to “transportation, housing, or nutritional decisions. This broad definition of economic activity [to include inactivity] subject to congressional regulation lacks logical limitation.” The federal government remains, in short, one of delegated, enumerated, and thus limited powers, notwithstanding the leviathan that surrounds us today.
This is a significant setback for the administration, not least because Judge Hudson cites to a similar argument set forth by federal district Judge Roger Vinson in Vinson’s October 14 opinion denying the administration’s motion to dismiss the ObamaCare suit brought against it by 21 states, with more to follow. There will be more litigation on these issues, of course, but for today, at least, the Tenth Amendment and the limited government it implies are alive and well.
Pilon’s colleague, Ilya Shapiro, also lauded the ruling:
Today is a good day for liberty. And a bad day for those who say that Congress is the arbiter of Congress’s powers. By striking down the individual mandate, Judge Hudson vindicated the idea that ours is a government of delegated and enumerated — and thus limited — powers. Even if the Supreme Court has broadened over the years the scope of Congress’s authority to legislate under the guise of regulating interstate commerce or to tax for the general welfare, “the constraining principles articulated in this line of cases… remains viable and applicable to the immediate dispute.”
In short, we have come far from the days when pundits dismissed the lawsuits challenging the new health care law as frivolous political gimmicks. This is just one district court — whose opinion is not binding on the judges who will now consider the government’s appeal — but we can now see the day where this unprecedented assertion of federal power is definitively rejected as fundamentally contrary to our constitutional order.
As Judge Hudson said, “Despite the laudable intentions of Congress in enacting a comprehensive and transformative health care regime, the legislative process must still operate within constitutional bounds. Salutatory goals and creative drafting have never been sufficient to offset an absence of enumerated powers.”
Randy Barnett, who has been advocating court challenges to ObamaCare, contributed his opinion on the ruling at The New York Times:
The days of calling the constitutional challenges to the Affordable Care Act “frivolous” and “political” are now officially over. Judge Hudson’s ruling that the individual insurance mandate is unconstitutional is a milestone in the legal process of deciding whether Congress has the power to command every person in the United States to enter into an economic relationship with a private company.
Until 2010, the only mandates ever imposed on American citizens pertained to their citizenship: register for the draft and serve if called, sit on a jury, file a tax return, respond to the census. In the U.S., one cannot even be commanded to vote.
If economic mandates like this one are allowed, however, Americans will be demoted from citizens to subjects. They will have to obey any commands that Congress deems convenient to its regulation of interstate commerce. No more expensive tax credits and subsidies to raise taxes to pay for; Congress can just command you to buy its favored products. Forget cash for clunkers; just make Americans buy cars from G.M. Or make them undergo medical exams to save on health care costs. Gone will be a federal government of limited and enumerated powers established by the Constitution and repeatedly affirmed by the Supreme Court.
On Thursday morning, the spotlight moves to Pensacola, Fla. where oral arguments on the challenge brought against the law by 20 attorneys general will be heard. Like Judge Hudson today, Federal District Court Judge Roger Vinson has already dismissed the government’s invocation of its tax power on the merits, while signaling his skepticism about the government’s Commerce Clause theory.
If he now joins in striking down the individual mandate, I would not be surprised to see the next Congress and President Obama agree to “reform” the law by eliminating this constitutionally noxious mandate before the Supreme Court ever has a chance to rule.
The folks over at the Heritage Foundation are equally pleased:
In the most significant decision to date involving the numerous challenges to Obamacare, a district court today ruled in favor of the Commonwealth of Virginia’s challenge, and declared the individual mandate portion of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act unconstitutional. The fact that the decision is based upon cross motions for summary judgment means among other things, in simple English, that the parties have had two major hearings and two sets of merit briefs before the Court, which has now issued its second major opinion (and this is leaving aside a slew of motions decided by the court). The decision, accordingly, is the most well-developed of any court yet to address the matter, and therefore should cause quite a bit of indigestion for defenders of Obamacare.
There has been discussion between Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and the Justice Department on seeking an expedited ruling from the from the Supreme Court, skipping the Fourth District Court of Appeals.
Whatever happens, the Supreme Court is going to have the final say here Republicans are able to mount a successful campaign to repeal the law in Congress - a highly unlikely prospect as they lack the numbers in the House to override a veto, let alone a majority in the Senate.