US judge deals new blow to Obama health reform

Jan 31, 2011 by Lucile Malandain

A second US federal judge Monday declared President Barack Obama's health care law unconstitutional, sparking a fierce new showdown with Republicans who vow to repeal the historic reform act.

The Obama administration immediately pledged to appeal and branded the ruling by a Florida judge as an "outlier" from the judicial mainstream, warning that health care costs would soar if it was allowed to stand.

But Republicans crowed that the ruling was one step closer to the outright repeal of a law that has been a Democratic dream for decades but that conservatives say will explode the deficit and kill jobs.

US District Judge Roger Vinson said a key provision of the law known as the "individual mandate" exceeds Congress's regulatory powers by requiring Americans to either purchase health insurance by 2014 or pay a fine.

"Because the individual mandate is unconstitutional and not severable, the entire act must be declared void," Vinson said in his ruling, the latest step of a twisting legal battle likely to end up in the US Supreme Court.

"This has been a difficult decision to reach, and I am aware that it will have indeterminable implications."

Vinson agreed with governors and attorneys general from 26 US states that consider the provision unconstitutional.

But the Justice Department quickly said it would appeal Vinson's ruling, and consider all options -- including a stay of the verdict pending appeal -- to ensure the health care law can go into force.

The health care law, which passed last year, is the most sweeping piece of social legislation since the 1960s, reins in insurance company abuses and brings America as close as it has ever been to universal coverage.

"Today's ruling... is a plain case of judicial overreaching," Stephanie Cutter, a senior political assistant to Obama, said in a White House blog post.

"The judge's decision puts all of the new benefits, cost savings and patient protections that were included in the law at risk."

In December, Judge Henry Hudson of the Eastern District Court in Richmond, Virginia, found that the mandate usurps federal authority and violates the Commerce Clause, a key component of the US Constitution.

Some 12 federal judges have already struck down challenges to the law, and two have upheld the legislation.

Republicans pounced on the latest ruling, seeking fuel for their campaign to overturn the reform -- a vain hope for now, as Obama could wield a presidential veto in the unlikely event a repeal law cleared Congress.

Senate Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said the court's decision proved the health care law was a "massive overreach" and exceeded congressional authority.

"We should repeal this health spending bill and replace it with commonsense reforms that will actually lower costs, prevent unsustainable entitlement promises and make it easier for employers to start hiring again," he added.

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus called the ruling a "major victory for the American people and job-creators all across the country."

Obama's Republican foes have claimed the health care law includes rationing for end of life care, would add to the massive deficit and will kill jobs as employers struggle to pay for what they say will be rising premiums.

The new Republican-led House of Representatives has already voted to repeal the health reform law, which reins in insurance firms and seeks to offer near-universal care to Americans for the first time.

Obama said in his State of the Union address earlier this month that he was "eager" to work with Republicans to make small improvements in the law but was not willing to consider a complete repeal.

Opinion polls have found the US public deeply divided over the health law, with roughly one in five in favor of outright repeal and the rest divided between strengthening the law and rolling back parts of it.

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dogbert
2.6 / 5 (10) Jan 31, 2011
"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," Vinson said in his ruling.


Excellent! There are still some judges with integrity. Bravo!
Corban
not rated yet Jan 31, 2011
We show our principles through unpragmatic choices.
soulman
2.8 / 5 (9) Jan 31, 2011
And the world continues to laugh at US.
trats
3.7 / 5 (3) Feb 01, 2011
Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel, 1993: The American health care industry is one of the largest and fastest growing segments of the American economy, and it has the most direct and crucial impact on the lives of all Americans. Spiralling health care costs and inequities in the provision of health care services have an immediate and massive effect on the national economy and thus upon interstate commerce. As a result Congress unquestionably possesses the power "to deal directly and specifically" with health care in order to obtain "social, health [and] economic advantages" for the American people.
ereneon
2.3 / 5 (3) Feb 01, 2011
Reins in insurance company abuses? If I am not mistaken, it maintains their unneeded antitrust exemption, while at the same time forcing people to buy insurance.
freethinking
1.6 / 5 (7) Feb 01, 2011
And the world continues to laugh at US.... Correct, until we get rid of the progressives lunatics running the government.

The health care bill was garbage and everyone knew it.

Health care needs an overhaul to make it better, not worse. I
MorganW
3 / 5 (4) Feb 01, 2011
Doing pushups every day is healthy. Therefore, Congress should pass a law mandating that everyone MUST immediately purchase the "Perfect Pushup" contraption (but wait until I invest in it first). Failure to comply with this law will result in fines and pushups (and lost investment revenues for me).
Submit to conformity.
Modernmystic
2.1 / 5 (7) Feb 01, 2011
The law is unconstitutional...period.

If you want socialized medicine then you appropriate the money through taxes and you pay for it.

You can't tell people they have to buy a product or pay a fine/go to jail...well you CAN, but you can't call it constitutional whatever else you do.

I for one am ready for socialized medicine. It's going to be an unmitigated disaster, but it's going to be a HELL of a lot better than the ludicrous system we have now. That's saying a lot...
VOR
5 / 5 (1) Feb 01, 2011
medicare for all. stop the insanity. The health insurance industry does not serve the people. It preys upon them.
freethinking
2 / 5 (7) Feb 01, 2011
MM if socialized medicing is going to be an unmitigated disaster, how can it be better than the system we have now? I and most people are happy with the system we have now. (Although there is a lot of room for and need for improvement.) And I'm someone who pays 100% of my insurance out of pocket.
Skeptic_Heretic
3 / 5 (6) Feb 01, 2011
Excellent! There are still some judges with integrity. Bravo!
Why do conservatives always complain of judicial activism then go right on through and commit it themselves?
freethinking
2.1 / 5 (7) Feb 02, 2011
Judicial Activism is when a judge makes law or create rights not written in the constitution. When judges make their rulings using the constitution as written then we are happy.

Progressives are happy when judical activists make law and creat rights out of thin air, or deny rights clearly written that they oppose.

Obama as a constitutional law professor should have known that the law is not constitutional. But then again I believe he was hoping that he could stack the supreme court in time with enough judicial activists so that his unconstituional law would not be thrown out.

BTW if this law passed, what would stop President Palin using the same reasoning to demand everyone in the USA Must own a gun?
Skeptic_Heretic
3.4 / 5 (5) Feb 02, 2011
Judicial Activism is when a judge makes law or create rights not written in the constitution. When judges make their rulings using the constitution as written then we are happy.

Progressives are happy when judical activists make law and creat rights out of thin air, or deny rights clearly written that they oppose.
I'm not seeing a difference. Didn't the declaration of independence call for the protection of life and the Constitution for the protection of general welfare? You have a very selective memory.

Beyond that, one would think you want the mandate in place. After all, when someone shows up at a hospital with no insurance, we have to support their "freeloading". If they have insurance by mandate, then the costs aren't passed on to you.
Modernmystic
2.1 / 5 (7) Feb 02, 2011
MM if socialized medicing is going to be an unmitigated disaster, how can it be better than the system we have now?


Because the system we have now is a complete, total, utter ****ING JOKE. That's why. If you're happy paying for it FINE. Pay for it. We have socialized education, that doesn't mean you can't send your kids to private school. By all means continue to get reamed by the current system if your too damned stupid to see its abysmal failure or are a masochist.
freethinking
1 / 5 (4) Feb 03, 2011
The system we currently have is not a joke. Am I happy to pay for it? No, I think I should be able to go to any doctor, any hospital, get any treatment for free. Since that is not possible, I pay insurance.

If we can get scum bag lawyers and government out of the way insurance rates would drop, and so would the cost of getting treatments.

MM you are buying into the notion that government can fix it, if you would look deeper into the issue you would see that it is the government is the problem.

As for the socialized educational system, yea the government has screwed that up to. School kids being expelled for shooting spitballs, while other students are allowed to bring knives to school. Teachers unable to be fired, parental rights being trampled.

I think you need to get your masochistic plank out of your eye and then open your eyes to what is going on.
freethinking
1 / 5 (5) Feb 03, 2011
SH - you show your ignorance in many things, from religion, business, self defense, science, and now in constitutional law. I think you should quit listening to constituional experts like Obama, and actually read the documents you talk about. But then progressives don't know how to read, expecially anything more than comic books and slogans. Don't believe me, call any of the elected officials who voted for the bill and see if they actually read the bill. If you can't haven't read a bill, an elect official should never vote for it.
Skeptic_Heretic
5 / 5 (3) Feb 03, 2011
Freethinking, when someone says something you don't like, that doesn't mean it is ignorant. It means you don't like it for whatever reason, up to and including your personal ignorance.
But then progressives don't know how to read, expecially anything more than comic books and slogans.
Really now.
If you can't haven't read a bill, an elect official should never vote for it.
Was the bill written as poorly as your ad hominem insults above?
GSwift7
3.9 / 5 (7) Feb 03, 2011
Judicial Activism is when a judge makes law


Actually that's called case law and the vast majority of our legal system is case law (otherwise known as common law, from the English origin of the concept). Very few of our laws are actually the other kind, called statutory law. The founders may not have specified this process in our constitution, but that's probably because that system was already in place here and they just assumed it would continue. It was a given.

Judicial activism is a kinda soft term. By that I mean that you can kinda define it in a lot of different ways to fit whatever your views are. I try to just avoid those kinds of phrases.

I think people just use the term judicial activism when case law isn't decided in their favor, on both sides of EVERY issue.
Modernmystic
2.6 / 5 (5) Feb 03, 2011
MM you are buying into the notion that government can fix it, if you would look deeper into the issue you would see that it is the government is the problem.


No I'm buying into the notion that the government CAN'T fix it. They HAVEN'T fixed it for 30-40 years. Since REPUBLICANS have failed utterly to address the issues and fix the BLATANT problems in the system when they had the chance I'm saying to hell with it. The government might as well run it. That at least will be BETTER than the bastardized half public/half private mess that we have now.

I think you need to get your masochistic plank out of your eye and then open your eyes to what is going on.


I see what's going on all too clearly. Maybe you should step out of your ideological straight jacket and exercise a little bit of critical thinking.
GSwift7
2.3 / 5 (3) Feb 03, 2011
I think the health care bill was just too big and too complicated. They should have broken it down into manageable pieces and taken more time on each part. In stead they crammed it all into one huge bill and rushed it through because they knew time was short. The vast majority of the public has parts they like and parts they don't like. I say keep the good parts and fix the broken parts. Really, it isn't any worse than the way it was before, is it? Better in some ways and worse in others. I don't think the mandatory insurance part will stand, but repealing the whole thing would be sad. Some of it was even bi-partisan stuff, you know.

P.S. I wouldn't call Massachusetts vs. EPA judicial activism any more than I would this ruling.
GSwift7
1 / 5 (1) Feb 03, 2011
On a side note: Because they will NEVER run this story on this web site, try to google the following and pick the second thing on the list, the article from Bloomberg BusinessWeek:

Rockefeller Seeks to Suspend EPA Carbon Regulations

I'm not sure what to make of this one. These are Democrats trying to block the EPA rules. I have a theory but I'm not going to say it because it kinda sounds like conspiracy stuff when I say it out loud, so it probably is.
freethinking
1.7 / 5 (6) Feb 03, 2011
MM I agree with you that the Republicans didn't do anything to fix health care. If you did any critical thinking at all you would agree that letting government run it cause they screwed it up anyway is stupid.
Thrasymachus
1.4 / 5 (9) Feb 03, 2011
Absolutely none of this bill will ever be repealed, and the judicial activists who apparently don't know how to follow precedent regarding the interpretation of the Commerce Clause, the Necessary and Proper Clause, and the power to levy taxes will be overturned at their respective District Appeals Court. The Supreme Court probably won't even hear the issue because they'll just side with the Appeals Court in certifying the law Constitutional.
Modernmystic
2.3 / 5 (3) Feb 04, 2011
Absolutely none of this bill will ever be repealed, and the judicial activists who apparently don't know how to follow precedent regarding the interpretation of the Commerce Clause, the Necessary and Proper Clause, and the power to levy taxes will be overturned at their respective District Appeals Court. The Supreme Court probably won't even hear the issue because they'll just side with the Appeals Court in certifying the law Constitutional.


This is an unapportioned direct tax. It's unconstitutional...period. Its repeal won't overturn ANY precedents, it would uphold them.

I do agree though that it won't be overturned...because no one in the judiciary or congress gives a flying fuck about the constitutionality of their actions anymore.
Thrasymachus
2.3 / 5 (9) Feb 04, 2011
The 16th Amendment changed that requirement MM.
The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.
So there ya go. Everybody is required to pay a tax to pay for their medical care, with an exemption if you already have health insurance. That's perfectly Constitutional.
Modernmystic
1 / 5 (1) Feb 04, 2011
That's for INCOMES only. That doesn't apply to any other direct taxes. Try again.
Thrasymachus
2.3 / 5 (6) Feb 04, 2011
Sorry, MM, but that's wrong. In Commissioner v. Glenshaw Glass, the court ruled that income was any increase in wealth from any source that was under the citizen's complete dominance. This includes the benefit (which can be priced) of being guaranteed emergency health care regardless of ability to pay. The source of that income is the person's location within the jurisdiction of the US, which is something they have complete dominance over, unless they're imprisoned. And in the Penn Mutual Indemnity case, the 3rd Circuit Court held that apportionment is "pretty strictly limited to taxes on real and personal property and capitation taxes."

Even if you regard this tax as a capitation tax, the Constitution does not prohibit them, but requires they be apportioned according to the Census. Since this is a tax on individuals, it is automatically apportioned according to the Census.
Skeptic_Heretic
5 / 5 (2) Feb 04, 2011
That's for INCOMES only. That doesn't apply to any other direct taxes. Try again.
Actually it does based on the legal definition of income.

Income was traditionally defined as anything "unearned" like rental income, interest on loans, stock exchange earnings, speculation, gambling, inheiritance, unspent profit of business, or capital gain, etc.

At some time it was legally defined to include wage and what was formerly "income" became "capital gains" for purposes of taxation.

edit:Thras nailed the case that redefined income above.
Claudius
1 / 5 (1) Feb 07, 2011

That's for INCOMES only. That doesn't apply to any other direct taxes. Try again.


Actually it does based on the legal definition of income.

As I heard it, the Supreme Court ruled that the 16th Amendment changed nothing regarding non-apportioned taxes. So it did not authorize taxing wages, etc. even though it was used that way. Also, it appears the 16th amendment was not actually ratified.