U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson's ruling will be the biggest judicial decision to come down the pike since groups began filing lawsuits against the bill passed by Congress last March. Twenty-six states are parties to the suit, which claims a mandate to insist Americans purchase a product is unconstitutional.
In October, Vinson dismissed four of the six counts in the suit led by then-Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum. But he allowed two counts, including one challenging the law's controversial requirement that Americans buy health insurance, to proceed. Arguments were heard in December.
In his earlier ruling, Vinson said that a government report called the requirement to buy insurance legally unprecedented and worth examining in court.
This news comes on the heels of a blockbuster December 13 decision by federal judge Henry Hudson, who struck down the individual mandate while leaving the rest of the law largely intact. As we discussed at the time, there is no severability clause in Obamacare, and in mounting a legal defense of its new policy, the White House has conceded that the individual mandate represents the tent pole of the entire enterprise, and cannot be compartmentalized from its other provisions. In other words, if the individual mandate bites the dust (and it seems increasingly likely that the Supreme Court will ultimately weigh that question), Obamacare implodes.
UPDATE - Judge Vinson tossed out Obamacare in its totality: "Because the individual mandate is unconstitutional and not severable, the entire Act must be declared void." (Emphasis mine).
UPDATE II - On Fox News, Shepard Smith declares that "a lot of people love" Obamacare, suggesting that "a majority" now approves of the law. Not so much.
Most voters continue to favor repeal of the national health care law, but now that the Republican-run House has voted to repeal and sent it on to the Democratic-controlled Senate for action, confidence that the law ultimately will be repealed has fallen to its lowest level in four months.A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 58% of Likely Voters at least somewhat favor repeal of the health care law, including 47% who Strongly Favor repeal. Thirty-eight percent (38%) oppose repeal, with 29% who are Strongly Opposed.
UPDATE III - Here's the ruling.
UPDATE IV - Via a Senate Republican source, a reminder that Rasmussen isn't the only polling firm showing plurality/majority support for Obamacare repeal. The individual mandate -- again, the linchpin of the entire law -- is wildly unpopular.
UPDATE V - Vinson seems almost apologetic in his ruling, calling it "difficult" and "hard," while acknowledging a near unanimous consensus on the need for (constitutional) reform:
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, it is hard to invalidate and strike down a statute titled "The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act."
As unpleasant as it may have been for the judge, he did his job anyway. Politically, his stated reluctance to invalidate Obamacare will complicate the Left's inevitable effort to paint Vinson, a Reagan appointee, as an ideologue.
UPDATE VI - In what the MSM is already derisively calling a shout-out to the modern Tea Party movement, Vinson references the events that led to the 1773 Boston Tea Party in his decision:
It is difficult to imagine that a nation which began, at least in part, as the result of opposition to a British mandate giving the East India Company a monopoly and imposing a nominal tax on all tea sold in America would have set out to create a government with the power to force people to buy tea in the first place.
Anyone who has a problem with that analogy is likely already suffering from Tea Party Derangement Syndrome.
UPDATE VII - Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell applauds the ruling:
“This ruling confirms what Americans have been saying for months: The health spending bill is a massive overreach and Democrats ‘exceeded the bounds’ of Congressional authority under the Constitution in passing the law with the individual mandate. Rather than penalizing Americans if they don’t buy a particular product that Washington decides is best, 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.”
UPDATE VIII - In case you were curious, the 26 state plaintiffs that were party to the successful Obamacare suit were: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Indiana, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
UPDATE IX - Meanwhile, on the legislative repeal track, Sen. Jim DeMint tweets that all 47 Republican Senators have co-sponsored S. 192, the upper chamber's repeal bill. Sen. Mitch McConnell has promised to "repeatedly" force votes on the measure. People who claim that there are not significant differences between our two major parties are dead wrong.
UPDATE X - No shock. The White House says it will appeal this ruling to the US Appeals Court. As several people have tweeted, we should just cut out all the unnecessary drama and paperwork and just ask Anthony Kennedy to rule on the constitutionality of Obamacare.
UPDATE XI (this will be my final update to this post) - Via Allahpundit, a fun reminder that Congressional Democrats flat-out forgot to include a severability clause in the final legislative language of Obamacare. Hey, when you're ramming through an unpopular bill by striking unsavory deals and making the rules up as you go along, "oversights" tend to occur.