Twenty-six states, two private citizens, and the National Federation of Independent Business challenged the health care reform bill signed by President Obama last spring. A U.S. District Judge in Florida, Roger Vinson, has ruled the entire bill unconstitutional. A federal judge in Virginia had ruled the individual mandate unconstitutional last month, but Vinson has ruled the whole bill unconstitutional. It will, of course, be appealed by the Obama administration and ultimately will more than likely end up finally decided by the Supreme Court. However, this decision is a victory for Americans and the Constitution. Here is the decision in part (emphasis mine):
The existing problems in our national health care system are recognized by everyone in this case. There is widespread sentiment for positive improvements that will reduce costs, improve the quality of care, and expand availability in a way that the nation can afford. This is obviously a very difficult task. Regardless of how laudable its attempts may have been to accomplish these goals in passing the Act, Congress must operate within the bounds established by the Constitution. Again, this case is not about whether the Act is wise or unwise legislation. It is about the Constitutional role of the federal government.
For the reasons stated, I must reluctantly conclude that Congress exceeded the bounds of its authority in passing the Act with the individual mandate. That is not to say, of course, that Congress is without power to address the problems and inequities in our health care system. The health care market is more than one sixth of the national economy, and without doubt Congress has the power to reform and regulate this market. That has not been disputed in this case. The principal dispute has been about how Congress chose to exercise that power here.30 Because the individual mandate is unconstitutional and not severable, the entire Act must be declared void. This has been a difficult decision to reach, and I am aware that it will have indeterminable implications. At a time when there is virtually unanimous agreement that health care reform is needed in this country, itis hard to invalidate and strike down a statute titled “The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.” As Judge Luttig wrote for an en banc Fourth Circuit instriking down the “Violence Against Women Act” (before the case was appealed and the Supreme Court did the same):
No less for judges than for politicians is the temptation to affirm any statute so decorously titled. We live in a time when the lines between law and politics have been purposefully blurred to serve the ends of the latter. And, when we, as courts, have not participated in this most perniciously machiavellian of enterprises ourselves, we have acquiesced in it by others, allowing opinions of law to be dismissed as but pronouncements of personal agreement or disagreement. The judicial decision making contemplated by the Constitution, however, unlike at least the politics of the moment, emphatically is not a function of labels. If it were, the Supreme Court assuredly would not have struck down the “Gun-Free School Zones Act,” the “Religious Freedom Restoration Act,” the “Civil Rights Act of 1871,” or the “Civil Rights Act of 1875.” And if it ever becomes such, we will have ceased to be a society of law, and all the codification of freedom in the world will be to little avail.
Brzonkala, supra, 169 F.3d at 889.
In closing, I will simply observe, once again, that my conclusion in this case is based on an application of the Commerce Clause law as it exists pursuant to the Supreme Court’s current interpretation and definition. Only the Supreme Court (or a Constitutional amendment) can expand that.
For all the reasons stated above and pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment (doc. 80) is hereby GRANTED as to its request for declaratory relief on Count I of the Second Amended Complaint, and DENIED as to its request for injunctive relief; and the defendants’ motion for summary judgment (doc. 82) is hereby GRANTED on Count IV of the Second Amended Complaint. The respective cross-motions are each DENIED.
In accordance with Rule 57 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and Title 28, United States Code, Section 2201(a), a Declaratory Judgment shall be entered separately, declaring “The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” unconstitutional.
You can read the entire decision by Judge Vinson here.
UPDATE: Even prior to the passage of the health care reform bill, on two occasions in her Facebook posts, Governor Palin recognized that the this bill was unconstitutional. See here and here .
UPDATE II: The Justice Department will appeal the decision, and the White House has deemed this decision to uphold the Constitution “judicial activism”.