Federal District Judge Henry Hudson has ruled that it is unconstitutional for the government to force citizens to buy health insurance under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The Virginia ruling is a major boost for opponents of ObamaCare.
As my colleague Hadley Heath notes at Health Care Lawsuits.org, Hudson is the first federal judge to rule on the law. In the eagerly-awaited ruling, Hudson wrote that the so-called individual mandate-the requirement to purchase health insurance-“exceeds the constitutional boundaries of congressional power.”
Hadley quotes Cato’s Ilya Shapiro on what this means:
Yes, Virginia, there are limits on federal power.
Today is a good day for liberty. And a bad day for those who say that Congress is the arbiter of Congress’s powers. By striking down the individual mandate, Judge Hudson vindicated the idea that ours is a government of delegated and enumerated-and thus limited-powers. Even if the Supreme Court has broadened over the years the scope of Congress’s authority to legislate under the guise of regulating interstate commerce, “the constraining principles articulated in this line of cases… remains viable and applicable to the immediate dispute.”
In short, we have come a long way from the days when pundits dismissed the lawsuits challenging the new health care law as frivolous political gimmicks. This is just one district court-whose opinion is not binding on the judges who will now consider the government’s appeal-but we can now see the day where this unprecedented assertion of federal power is definitively rejected as fundamentally contrary to our constitutional order.
As Judge Hudson said, “Despite the laudable intentions of Congress in enacting a comprehensive and transformative health care regime, the legislative process must still operate within constitutional bounds. Salutatory goals and creative drafting have never been sufficient to offset an absence of enumerated powers.”
It is interesting that Hudson did not issue an injunction against implementing the law-in theory, this means that the parts deemed unconstitutional can be “severed” from the law. But so much of the law hung on the individual mandate that this seems a difficult undertaking.
Such an injunction would have stopped the law in its tracks until it got to a higher court, but Hudson’s ruling is nevertheless terrific news. You can enjoy the comments over at The Corner.