Federal District Judge Roger Vinson ruled on Monday that the Obama administration’s requirement for almost all Americans to buy health care insurance is unconstitutional.
The Florida judge’s opinion brought to two versus two the decisions from lower federal courts thus far on legal challenges to the health care plan approved by Congress and signed by President Obama last year, according to a New York Times article.
“The divided opinions set the stage for a potentially landmark constitutional debate in the higher courts, with a final decision expected in the U.S. Supreme Court, perhaps as soon as next year,” the Los Angeles Times said.
Judge Vinson (photo, above right) ruled on a major legal challenge that was brought by governors and attorneys general from 26 states, Reuters reported. Most of the state leaders are Republicans.
“I must reluctantly conclude that Congress exceeded the bounds of its authority in passing the Act with the individual mandate,” Judge Vinson wrote, according to a USA Today report. “Individual mandate” refers to the section of the law requiring most Americans to buy health insurance or pay a fine.
The judge contended that if appellate courts agree with his analysis, the entire law should be ruled void. His ruling went further than the approach taken in December by Federal District Judge Henry Hudson in Virginia. Judge Hudson struck down the “individual mandate” provision but did not find the whole law unconstitutional (see Gavel Grab). (more…)