A Florida judge has ruled the Obama health reform law unconstitutional, saying Congress exceeded its authority by requiring Americans buy health insurance.
This is a huge blow to the legislation, though it of course will be appealed and eventually decided by the Supreme Court. The White House has acknowledged that the requirement for all to possess health care is central to the legislation, since it is the only way to pay for the many new requirements on insurers.
But the ruling, by Reagan-appointed judge Roger Vinson, says that as a result of one provision failing to pass muster, the entire law is unconstitutional. “I must reluctantly conclude that Congress exceeded the bounds of its authority in passing the Act with the individual mandate,” Vinson writes. “Because the individual mandate is unconstitutional and not severable, the entire Act must be declared void,” he wrote.
If the Supreme Court eventually backs up the ruling, it will mean an end to Obamacare, or at least the key portions of it.
The central point at issue is whether the government can requirement you to purchase a product. In this case, the judge is saying it cannot.
Though the case will be decided by the High Court, the Florida ruling, combined with a similar one issued in Virginia, gives momentum and serious standing to the argument that the law is unconstitutional, an idea that had been dismissed by leading Democrats like former Speaker Pelosi as ridiculous.
Two other federal judges have upheld the law, however.
Congressional Republicans are moving to try to slowly eviscerate the law, but analysts agree that the best bet for opponents for a de facto repeal may be in the courts.
Today’s ruling has no immediate effect on the law, which continues to be implemented.
In the Virginia case, another Republican-appointed judge ruled against the mandate, but did not void the entire law. Before making their way to the Supreme Court both cases decided against the law will now move to appellate courts that are regarded as conservative.