Florida Judge Delivers New Blow to Obamacare

February 1, 2011


The Obama administration is vowing to move full speed ahead with implementation of the health care reform law, even after a federal judge Monday declared the legislation unconstitutional.

It was the most striking blow yet to President Barack Obama’s signature domestic initiative, though it certainly won’t be the last ruling on the issue. The Justice Department plans to appeal. Judge Roger Vinson of the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of Florida ruled that the law’s requirement that nearly all Americans purchase health insurance is not within the legal bounds of Congress’s power under the commerce clause. But he stopped short of issuing an injunction to keep the federal government from enacting the law.

The administration called the ruling “well outside of the mainstream judicial opinion” and said implementation won’t change.

“I don’t think you should view this as the opening of the government shutting down the implementation effort,” a senior administration official said. The ruling is unlikely to derail implementation of the health reform law in the states. Each of the states that are party to the lawsuit has received some funding to implement provisions of the Affordable Care Act.

Even more conservative states concede that while they oppose the law, they would rather lay the groundwork themselves than cede control to the federal government. That’s the view of Rep. John Zerwas, a Republican in the Texas House of Representatives who introduced legislation to authorize his state to set up a health insurance exchange. “There’s one thing we know for sure: Health care reform is the law of the land,” he said Monday. “All of our efforts to declare it unconstitutional are aspirational at this point. I’d much rather be in a situation where we have a way to deal with this at a state level than have the federal government come in.”

The Florida case is now quite likely headed for the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, which is based in Atlanta and considered one of the most conservative circuit courts. Other reform-related lawsuits are proceeding through the 4th and 6th Circuits. The issue is expected to be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.

To read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0111/48554.html#ixzz1Chwp22KV

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