Second Court Strikes Down HCR (breaking)

A Florida District Court has struck down all of the HCR law.

This is developing story as the ruling has just been released and it’s a long one (78 pages).  A Federal judge in Florida has ruled the entire health care reform law unconstitutional because of the provision that mandates that all Americans must buy Insurance.  He hasn’t stopped implementation, however.

It looks like he’s relying on some section of the Commerce Clause in the Constitution, but there are some truly bizarre things in this ruling.   You may recall that a Virginia judge ruled that portion of the law unconstitutional without throwing out the entire thing.

Vinson basically says that Congress cannot require people to buy a product.  He then goes into page after page of what looks like a libertarian view of American History.  It’s very strange.

Dahlialithwick Dahlia Lithwick

J Vinson strikes down whole healthcare reform law — finds not severable

From the David Weigel article at Slate:

The money graf, in which Vinson strikes down the entire law — which, because of the mess in the Senate and House, lacked severability:

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.”

From Obama Health-Care Reform Act Unconstitutional, Judge Says in 26-State Suit

Vinson’s ruling may be appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals in Atlanta. A federal appeals court in Richmond, Virginia, is already slated in May to hear challenges to two conflicting federal court rulings in that state, one of which upheld the legislation while the other invalidated part of it. The U.S. Supreme Court may ultimately be asked to consider the issue.

The 955-page law bars insurers from denying coverage to people who are sick and from imposing lifetime limits on costs. It also includes pilot projects to test ideas like incentives for better results and bundled payments to medical teams for patient care.

In an Oct. 14 decision letting the case to proceed, Vinson narrowed the issues to whether the act exceeded the constitutional powers of Congress by requiring all Americans over the age of 18 to obtain coverage and expanding eligibility for Medicaid, the federal-state program offering care for the indigent.

The case is State of Florida v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 10-cv-00091, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Florida (Pensacola).

Reuters Feed:

Vinson has suggested strongly that he too will rule the individual mandate oversteps constitutional limits on federal authority. He may also move to invalidate the entire law, by granting the plaintiff states’ request for an injunction to halt its implementation.

“The power that the individual mandate seeks to harness is simply without prior precedent,” Vinson wrote in an earlier opinion in October.

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