Florida Judge Expands on Virginia Ruling That Health Care Bill is Unconstitutional

Today Florida federal Judge Roger Vinson ruled that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional. In his ruling on the challenge brought by 26 states, Judge Vinson found, “…because the individual mandate is unconstitutional and not severable, the entire Act must be declared void.” Judge Vinson also noted, “The individual mandate exceeds Congress’ commerce power, as it is understood, defined, and applied in the existing Supreme Court case law.”

Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell commented on the ruling today saying, “Judge Vinson’s ruling is yet another strike against the individual mandate specifically, and the entire federal health care law generally. For the second time in as many months, a federal judge has found that Congress exceeded its constitutional authority by mandating that citizens of this nation purchase a commercial product or else face a penalty.”

Virginia Judge Henry Hudson reached a similar conclusion in his December ruling on the Commonwealth’s challenge to the Act. However, Judge Vinson’s decision today goes one step further. The Florida Judge also ruled that the individual mandate component is not severable from the overall Act in which it is contained, meaning that this one unconstitutional provision renders the entire bill void.

Stephanie Cutter, Assistant to the President and Deputy Senior White House Advisor said, “Today’s ruling – issued by Judge Vinson in the Northern District of Florida – is a plain case of judicial overreaching. The judge’s decision contradicts decades of Supreme Court precedent that support the considered judgment of the democratically elected branches of government that the Act’s ‘individual responsibility’ provision is necessary to prevent billions of dollars of cost-shifting every year by individuals without insurance who cannot pay for the health care they obtain.”

She also emphatically declared that, “We don’t believe this kind of judicial activism will be upheld and we are confident that the Affordable Care Act will ultimately be declared constitutional by the courts.”

The divided opinions have set the stage for what could be a landmark constitutional debate in the higher courts, with a final decision expected in the U.S. Supreme Court, perhaps as soon as next year.

Comments

  1. It’s about time someone told Barry Soweto that Socialism is not the answer.

  2. Mimi Stein says:

    Being forced to buy health insurance is hardly socialism — it’s mandatory capitalism. Only the insurance companies will cry over that part of the judge’s decision. The remainder is a question of whether are not you believe you have a duty to care for your neighbor. Some philosophies would say no; the Parable of the Good Samaritan would say absolutely.

    • I would say that my neighbor has the responsiblity to care for his or herself

      • Bill Thomas says:

        I couldn’t agree more but right now when your uninsured neighbor goes to the emergency room- we pick up the tab. You either need to deny people treatment who don’t have health insurance or make it mandatory that everyone has it. What’s it gonna be?

        • It would help to change the law to where emergency rooms are only required to treat people who present with acute or life threatening injuries/illness. No more trips to the ER for the sniffles

  3. Rightwinger: Obama is more of a corporatist than a socialist; we’re talking Benito Mussolini…socialism on steroids, if you will.

    Mimi: I think you may misunderstand capitalism. As for the parable of the Good Samaritan, I would agree that we, as individuals, have a moral obligation to care for those in need. However, the wounded individual that the Samaritan helped was *unable* to help himself, and the Samaritan helped of his own free will, simply because it was the right thing to do. Many of those who take advantage of free health care and welfare (in its many forms), are unwilling to take care of themselves and feel entitled to their neighbor’s benefits. These individuals want the strong arm of the government to reach into the pockets of their hard working neighbors, so that they can enjoy all of the benefits without any of the labor. I give a big thumbs up to the moral lesson taught through the parable of the Good Samaritan; but you have misapplied that parable to the national healthcare debate.

    Sarge: Here here! You are spot on. The problem is that most people don’t seem to understand two very important truths. 1.) What you subsidize you get more of. If, as a society, we subsidize lazy irresponsibility or illegal behavior, we will get more of it. 2.) The actual goal of those crafting the many welfare programs is to keep people in their poverty and state of dependence, as a means to maintain their own power. There are many out there who care about their neighbors; but they don’t care wisely. Their kindness and love for their neighbors is based on sentiment rather than a merciful, but just solution.

    And yes, Sarge, it would help if emergency rooms were once again true emergency rooms.

    Bill Thomas: Now see, you’ve muddied the waters. I would argue that your dichotomy is not only false, but it has little to do with the repeal of national healthcare. The repeal is a reaction to the illegal over-reach of power that this current administration is engaging in. The specific question is, “Does the federal government have the Constitutional right to require individuals to engage in commerce, fining them for failure to comply?” This is actually about federal power and control. This isn’t about denying individuals healthcare. No one is being denied healthcare with our current system. There is definitely a growing crisis in being able to provide free healthcare to those unable to care for themselves along with those who are in the country illegally and those who refuse to take care of themselves; but that is not what the healthcare bill is about.

  4. Bill Thomas says:

    Hmmmmm-
    Save it.

    The United States spends at least twice as much on health care, per person, as other industrial countries do, Americans do not live any longer and often have measurably worse health. Why is that?

    • Because we’re fat, lazy, and eat over-processed foods, that’s why.

    • Because people sit around and eat double bacon cheeesburgers and fries while watching re-runs of American Idol

      Conversely, we spend more per student than every other industrialized country in the world and rank about 15th.

      Why is that?

    • Why is that? Well, for one thing, it ISN’T. But, for the sake of argument, I’ll work from your premise.

      Let’s start with Norway. They control their healthcare costs with euthanasia. Talk to some of the elderly people who will fly to the US to stay with relatives in NYC so that they can get medical care, because they are afraid of entering a Norwegian hospital and never coming out again. Don’t believe me? Talk to some Norwegians. Specifically, talk to some elderly Norwegians. Better yet, talk to some Norwegian doctors who will speak truthfully about the euthanasia that they see as the lesser of two evils, when hospital beds are in short supply. Beyond that solution, have you ever been to a Norwegian hospital or talked to those who have? Let’s put it this way, you had better have family members bringing you food, clean linens, and anything and everything else you may need. The level of care is nothing even close to what we expect here in the US. Now I’m not sure what your personal standard of living is, but most Americans would find the conditions absolutely unacceptable, if not horrifying.

      How about Australia? Have you talked to any Australians about their healthcare lately? They have long, long, long “queues” as they call them. That means, if you need medical care you go on a long list and, if you’re fortunate enough, you can get your cancer treatment or surgery or whatever you need when you are called. Of course, there is always the aggravation of getting ready to have your gall bladder removed (for example), waiting tentatively in the pre-op room, donning your hospital cap and gown, only to be sent home minutes before your scheduled surgery because someone was deemed more urgent than you. This can happen repeatedly, by the way. Then there are the unfortunate cases whose cancer is left untreated for too long, because the queues were too long, and the cancer too aggressive. Of course, with Australia, let’s also not forget two other VERY important factors: 1.) The income tax rate was a whopping 50% a decade ago; I understand it has since increased. 2.) Australia has a VERY restrictive and limited immigration rate. If you are likely to be a burden to their healthcare system, you simply are not admitted entrance into the country.

      How about our friends in New Zealand? Guess what? They also have very, very high taxes, a much lower standard of living, AND their immigration is even more restrictive than Australia’s–they will not invite you into the country unless your BMI is in the healthy range, for starters. And, you need to be young enough to be able to work for a given number of years, to be sure that you pay enough into the system to earn that free healthcare.

      I could go on and on and on. We have a superior healthcare system, which is why wealthy Canadians, and even King Abdullah from Saudi Arabia come to the US for their serious healthcare needs. Imagine that. A King can get better medical care in the US than he could in his own country. Australia has an immunization rate of less than 50%…the US’s rate is closer to 80% (for major childhood illnesses). I do think you can have a decent surgical experience in Australia, if you can survive the queue. Quality that comes too late, doesn’t do much good.

      Not only do we have liberal immigration policies (which is fine with me), we also have a huge number of illegals draining our system. Of course, you probably haven’t lived in Southern California or Arizona, have you?

      And, one more point that most people fail to mention….healthcare is not FREE in places like Australia. You still pay “co-pays” which can be quite expensive and burdensome. By the way, if you have a baby in Australia, it is only free if you go to the free clinics and deliver with a midwife. If this is your preference, fine. But if you want the care of an actual obstetrician, it will cost you thousands of dollars out of your own pocket. Many citizens neglect medical care because they cannot afford the co-pays…and this is in addition to the HUGE tax rate that is intended to pay for “free” healthcare.

      We’ve all heard the liberal talking points; funny how they depend on people being sheltered from the truth.

      Do we need reform here in the US? Yes, we do. For starters, stop giving free medical care to illegals, institute tort reform, allow insurance companies to sell insurance across state lines, and you’ll see the cost of healthcare fall dramatically. There is more that could be done on the State level as well. And, there is even more that could be done on the community level and even the individual level.

      ‘Save it,’ you say? What do you want me ‘to save’? Save the facts from being openly discussed so that people will blindly believe the liberal talking points?

      • Bill Thomas says:

        Facts? Whose facts? Glenn Becks?

        What’s this free healthcare talk? How is making someone BUY INSURANCE from a Private insurance Company giving them FREE healthcare.

        The mandate seems to be the big bone of contention around which the GOP is rallying. Never mind it was a Republican idea to begin with. I’m okay with losing the mandate. We can just replace it with a public option, since we know the public option is constitutional, or how about Medicare for all (which is by the way indirectly forcing people to purchase healthcare insurance),which actually makes the most sense. One of the reasons we got the mandate was to appease the almighty insurance companies. The mandate keeps the cost down by making sure more people participate, while at the same time keeping healthcare insurance in the private sector. The GOP should be very careful what they wish for. Only one in four Americans want the healthcare bill repealed, AND the public option polled very well. Since Republicans are so fond of telling us Americans what we want, sounds like we want the public option. By fighting the mandate, the GOP is essentially going to leave no other option than have more govt involvement.