Another Judge Rules ObamaCare Unconstitutional

January 31st, 2011
in News, Background, econ_news

scales of justice Econintersect:  Senior United States District Judge Roger Vinson, for the Northern District of Florida, Pensacola Division, has delivered the latest and most comprehensive decision against The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010.

Judge Vinson has found that the entire act is unconstitutional because it's implementation depends upon an unconstutional imposition of federal power upon the states.  He also cites  the absense of a severability clause, which is commonlyincluded in legislation to provide that if any part or provision is held invalid, then the rest of the statute will not be affected.

Follow up:

 The keystone defect:  manadated insurance coverage.  Vinson starts with The Federalist Papers as precident and then assembles an array of decsions over history which he applies as precidents to this case.  He even includes the Supreme Court unconstitutionality decisions regarding the Gun Free School Zones Act of 1990 and The Violence Against Women Act of 1994.   

Vinson wrote:

 I will simply observe, once again, that my conclusion in this caseis based on an application of the Commerce Clause law as it exists pursuant to theSupreme Court's current interpretation and definition. Only the Supreme Court (or a Constitutional amendment) can expand that.

He also wrote (in a footnote):

... it should be emphasized that while the individual mandatewas clearly necessary and essential to the Act as drafted, it is not necessaryand essential to health care reform in general. It is undisputed that there arevarious other (Constitutional) ways to accomplish what Congress wanted to do. ”

From The New York Times:

In a 78-page opinion, Judge Vinson held that the insurance requirement exceeds the regulatory powers granted to Congress under the Commerce Clause of the Constitution. Judge Vinson wrote that the provision could not be rescued by an associated clause in Article I that gives Congress broad authority to make laws “necessary and proper” to carrying out its designated responsibilities.

“If Congress can penalize a passive individual for failing to engage in commerce, the enumeration of powers in the Constitution would have been in vain,” Judge Vinson wrote.

In a silver lining for the Obama administration, the judge rejected a second claim that the new law violates state sovereignty by requiring states to pay for a fractional share of a Medicaid expansion that is scheduled for 2014.

Mr. Vinson is the second federal judge to rule the 2010 health care legislation unconstitutional.  A third federal judge has ruled that it is constitutional.

The opinions have been divided along political lines.  The judges, their decisions and who appointed them:

  • George C. Steeh, Detroit, October 7, 2010 found the law constitutional.  Steeh was appointed by President Clinton in 1998.
  • Henry E. Hudson, Richmond, Virginia, December 13, 2010 found the mandate provision unconstitutional.  Hudson was appointed by President G.W. Bush in 2002.
  • Roger Vinson, Pensacola, Florida, January 31, 2011 found the law unconstituional.  Vinson was appointed by Resident Reagan in 1983.  

Sources:  Judge's OpinionThe New York TimesSlate, GEI News, Outside the BeltwayU.S. District Court of Eastern Michigan, and Wikipedia 

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