Virginia v. Sebelius
Just a few days after a federal judge in Virginia found the individual mandate to be unconstitutional, Judge Roger Vinson heard similar arguments in a challenge by 20 states against the health care reform law:
Attorneys for 20 states fighting the new federal health care law told a judge Thursday it will expand the government’s powers in dangerous and unintended ways.
The states want U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson to issue a summary judgment throwing out the health care law without a full trial. They argue it violates people’s rights by forcing them to buy health insurance by 2014 or face penalties.
“The act would leave more constitutional damage in its wake than any other statute in our history,” David Rivkin, an attorney for the states, told Vinson.
President Barack Obama’s administration counters that Americans should not have a choice of opting out of the overhaul because everyone requires medical care.
Initial reports are that Vinson views the law in much the same light that he did back in October, that the individual mandate is unconstitutional. Vinson wonder how far the Commerce Clause could stretch if the federal government could mandate every citizen buy health insurance:
In a federal courtroom Thursday, Judge Roger Vinson questioned how far Congress’s authority would go if it can legally require nearly all Americans to purchase health insurance.
Attorney General Eric Holder and DHHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius are vigorously defending ObamaCare in the wake of Judge Henry Hudson’s ruling finding the individual mandate to be unconstitutional:
One day after a Virginia federal judge ruled a key part of President Barack Obama’s health care reform law was unconstitutional, two members of Obama’s administration spoke out publicly defending the law.
In an op-ed piece that appeared on The Washington Post’s website Tuesday, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius say that insured Americans carry an unfair burden in paying for those who don’t have health insurance.
“The majority of Americans who have health insurance pay a higher price because of our broken system,” they wrote. “Every insured family pays an average of $1,000 more a year in premiums to cover the care of those who have no insurance.”
To stop imposing extra costs on people who carry insurance, Holder and Sebelius wrote, “everyone who can afford coverage needs to carry minimum health coverage starting in 2014.”
In the op-ed, Holder and Seblius also trout out the argument of mandating car insurance - a requirement set by states, not the federal government. Over at Hot Air, Ed Morrissey takes this argument down:
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.
As expected, U.S. District Court Judge Henry Hudson has ruled that ObamaCare is an unconstitutional violation of the Commerce Clause, which the Obama Administration was arguing gave them the power to enforce the individual mandate, in what is the clearest legal rebuke of the new health care reform law:
A federal judge in Virginia ruled Monday that a key provision of the nation’s sweeping health-care overhaul is unconstitutional, the most significant legal setback so far for President Obama’s signature domestic initiative.
U.S. District Court Judge Henry E. Hudson found that Congress could not order individuals to buy health insurance.
In a 42-page opinion, Hudson said the provision of the law that requires most individuals to get insurance or pay a fine by 2014 is an unprecedented expansion of federal power that cannot be supported by Congress’s power to regulate interstate trade.
“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,” he wrote. “In doing so, enactment of the [individual mandate] exceeds the Commerce Clause powers vested in Congress under Article I [of the Constitution.]
We’ll have more reaction to the decision posted later today or tomorrow. Meanwhile, you can read his opinion below: