Thursday, 3 February 2011
Judge Vinson introduces ObamaCare to Madison and Marshall.

Judge rules against health law, cites Obama’s words

In ruling against President Obama‘s health care law, federal Judge Roger Vinson used Mr. Obama‘s own position from the 2008 campaign against him, when the then-Illinois senator argued there were other ways to achieve reform short of requiring every American to purchase insurance.

I note that in 2008, then-Senator Obama supported a health care reform proposal that did not include an individual mandate because he was at that time strongly opposed to the idea, stating that, ‘If a mandate was the solution, we can try that to solve homelessness by mandating everybody to buy a house,’” Judge Vinson wrote in a footnote toward the end of his 78-page ruling Monday.

Judge Vinson, a federal judge in the northern district of Florida, struck down the entire health care law as unconstitutional on Monday, though he is allowing the Obama administration to continue to implement and enforce it while the government appeals his ruling.
The footnote was attached to the most critical part of Judge Vinson‘s ruling, in which he said the “principal dispute” in the case was not whether Congress has the power to tackle health care, but rather whether it has the power to compel individual citizens to purchase insurance. Read more here.

The Constitutional Moment

Judge Vinson introduces ObamaCare to Madison and Marshall.

Federal Judge Roger Vinson opens his decision declaring ObamaCare unconstitutional with that citation from Federalist No. 51, written by James Madison in 1788. His exhaustive and erudite opinion is an important moment for American liberty, and yesterday may well stand as the moment the political branches were obliged to return to the government of limited and enumerated powers that the framers envisioned.

As Judge Vinson took pains to emphasize, the case is not really about health care at all, or the wisdom—we would argue the destructiveness—of the newest entitlement. Rather, the Florida case goes to the core of the architecture of the American system, and whether there are any remaining limits on federal control. Judge Vinson's 78-page ruling in favor of 26 states and the National Federation of Independent Business, among others, is by far the best legal vindication to date of Constitutional principles that form the outer boundaries of federal power.

At the heart of the states' lawsuit is the individual mandate, which requires everyone to purchase health insurance or be penalized for not doing so. "Never before has Congress required that everyone buy a product from a private company (essentially for life) just for being alive and residing in the United States," Judge Vinson writes.

Congressional Democrats and the Obama Administration justified this coercion under the Commerce Clause, so it is fitting that Judge Vinson conducts a deep investigation into its history and intent, including Madison's notes at the Constitutional Convention and the jurisprudence of the first Chief Justice, John Marshall. The original purpose of the Commerce Clause was to eliminate the interstate trade barriers that prevailed under the Articles of Confederation—among the major national problems that gave rise to the Constitution.

The courts affirmed this limited and narrow understanding until the New Deal, when Congress began to regulate harum-scarum and the Supreme Court inflated the clause into a general license for anything a majority happened to favor.

In a major 1942 case, Wickard v. Filburn, the Court held that even growing wheat for personal use was an activity with a substantial economic effect on interstate commerce, thus justifying federal restrictions on the use of agricultural land meant to prop up commodity prices. It wasn't until the William Rehnquist Court, a half-century later, that the Justices began to recover some of the original limits, notably in the Lopez (1995) and Morrison (2000) cases. Read more here.

ObamaCare and the Two Kennedys

The Supreme Court justice will now decide on the individual mandate.

Now it appears that President Obama's health-care bill may again need the Kennedy imprimatur. This time, however, the Kennedy is Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy. As with so many contentious issues in American life, destiny appears to have appointed him the ultimate arbiter of the constitutionality of the linchpin of this new law: the individual mandate.

That much was certain back in December, when a U.S. district court judge in Virginia ruled that compelling an American to buy health insurance is beyond Congress's power under the Constitution's Commerce Clause. Mr. Kennedy's role was cemented yesterday afternoon by a similar ruling from U.S. District Court Judge Roger Vinson in Florida. With two other federal judges in Virginia and Michigan having upheld the mandate's constitutionality, ultimately the Supreme Court will have to decide.  Read more here.

Florida Judge Rules Against ObamaCare, Individual Mandate Unconstitutional

This article contains the ruling and the legal complaint.

Posted on 02/03/2011 7:10 AM by Bobbie Patray
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