The Wall Street Journal has an excellent piece explaining the key points in Judge Roger Vinson’s decision striking down the health reform law.
The White House attack machine has already labeled him a right wing jerk, but the logic of his decision is, while debatable by reasonable people, simple. Here’s an excerpt from the WSJ piece. It was written by Randy Barnett, a professor of constitutional law at Georgetown University Law Center, and Elizabeth Price Foley, is a professor of constitutional and health care law at Florida International University College of Law.
The government’s lawyers in the Florida case insisted that not buying health insurance was somehow different from a failure to buy other products like clothes or food. They said health insurance was “unique” because, eventually, everyone will seek and obtain health care. And if they aren’t insured, the costs will be shifted onto others, thus substantially affecting commerce.
Judge Vinson rejected this argument, recognizing that “not consuming” other products, such as food, is also unavoidable and can have substantial effects on other commercial markets. “There is quite literally no decision that, in the natural course of events, does not have an economic impact of some sort,” he wrote. “The decisions of whether and when (or not) to buy a house, a car, a television, a dinner, or even a morning cup of coffee also have a financial impact that—when aggregated with similar economic decisions—affect the price of that particular product or service and have a substantial effect on interstate commerce.”
All signs point to Justice Anthony Kennedy, frequently the Court’s swing vote, as the one who will decide if Obamacare lives or dies. The future of health care in America probably depends on whether Mr. Kennedy thinks not buying health insurance is an act of commerce.
If he decides it is an act of commerce, I’ll be very relieved. I’m going to stop writing this blog and see if someone pays me.