In some good news, a Federal Judge has ruled that ObamaCare is unconstitutional. I am, by no stretch of the imagination, a Constitutional scholar. However, Heritage has a great breakdown of the implications of this decision.
On the first claim, Judge Vinson sided with the administration. In the second, he offered a detailed analysis of the law which reads like a treatise. Rather than picking and choosing his cases, as many proponents of Obamacare like to do, he went through all of the relevant case law at length before concluding that the mandate violated the Commerce Clause. He correctly observed that “it would be a radical departure from existing case law to hold that Congress can regulate inactivity under the Commerce Clause.” He then concluded that “the individual mandate and the remaining provisions are all inextricably bound together in purpose and must stand or fall as a single unit. The individual mandate cannot be severed.” As such, he appropriately struck down the entire law. Today’s decision should be a major source of concern for the Obama administration for at least five reasons.
First, the parties involved. This case involves a majority of the states (26), and the National Federation of Independent Business. If not completely unprecedented, the very fact that more than half the states marched into federal court on behalf of themselves and their citizens to challenge an unconstitutional federal program falls into the category of “beyond any recent memory.” The sheer magnitude of the parties involved guarantees that the courts on appeal will pay particular attention to this case.
Second, the case creates a very bad trend for the administration. Those courts which have taken the time to more fully develop the record in the case, and to have more briefing and hearings (Virginia and Florida), have ruled Obamacare unconstitutional. This is important because, contrary to the White House spin, litigation is not a scoreboard. It is not enough to say that you have won some and lost some. Some district court wins “count” more, because they are more indicative of what is likely to come next. Here, the cases the administration has lost have been better developed, have significant and sophisticated parties, and are in a better position for appeal than the more cursory cases that they have won at more preliminary stages.
Third, the case strikes down the whole of Obamacare based on the unconstitutionality of the mandate. The administration has tried to have it both ways on this one, with the President and key proponents arguing how essential the mandate is, while the Justice Department arguing at times that it was absolutely essential, and at times that it was severable. If the DOJ really wanted to keep the bill severable, perhaps they should not have argued in court that removing the mandate while maintaining the remaining requirements of the bill would “inexorably drive [the health insurance] market into extinction.” Those who would falsely accuse the Judge of overstepping his bounds must recognize both the standards for severability, which he properly applied, and the damning concession made on this point by the Justice Department.
The fourth problem for the Obama DOJ: Judge Vinson’s decision is thorough, well-reasoned, and likely will be very persuasive to appellate judges, and eventually Justices, who review the case. He was judicious, ruling against the states on the spending clause claim and for them on the Commerce Clause. The most important document in any appeal is the decision below, and Judge Vinson’s will give the court of appeals much to consider. Put simply, Vinson has just made the Obama DOJ’s job much more difficult.
The fifth problem, the Judge granted declaratory relief to the parties, which includes 26 states. Because the entire act was struck down, the future requirements to expand Medicaid programs will be suspended, at least as to these 26 states, and these states will be relieved of their obligation to make plans for such expansion in the immediate future. At a time when many states face insolvency, the removal of this burden is welcome news. The Obama administration, rather than fight the relief for these 26 states, should extend it to all 50 until the case is finally resolved.
Now, this isn’t over by any means. There will be appeals. There is some chance that the judge will be smeared by the MSM. I think we’ll get more of the “official” reaction later today.
As usual with much of the recent news, there is a strong sense of irony here. As you are probably aware, the current MSM propaganda has been attempting to degrade Reagan’s status as one of the best Presidents, and, at the same time, trying to draw favorable comparisons between Reagan and Obama. Here’s where the wheels fall off the second effort; the judge that ruled that ObamaCare was unconstitutional was appointed by no one other that Ronald Reagan. It is as if Reagan is still looking out for us.
This is clearly going to be a developing story, so I’ll be doing updates and other posts as more information becomes available.
H/T: Michelle Malkin