Cue the Supremes: Judge rules health care law unconstitutional in Florida-initiated suitby George Bennett | January 31st, 2011
A federal judge in Pensacola has ruled the federal health care law unconstitutional in a lawsuit filed by former Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum last year and joined by 25 other states.
U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson said a provision requiring people to buy health insurance by 2014 or face penalties violates the Constitution. A judge in Virginia made a similar ruling last year, but Vinson went further and said the provision can’t be severed from the rest of the legislation and therefore the entire law must be struck down.
Two other federal judges have upheld the insurance requirement in the health care law, so the next step is likely to be the U.S. Supreme Court.
Reactions are pouring in — read some of them after the jump…
Reaction from Gov. Rick Scott: “I applaud the ruling today by Judge Vinson. In making his ruling, the judge has confirmed what many of us knew from the start; ObamaCare is an unprecedented and unconstitutional infringement on the liberty of the American people. I commend Attorney General Bondi and her team for their work to present the state’s case, and I will continue to work with her to protect Floridians from this overreaching federal mandate. Patients should have more control over health care decisions than a federal government that is spending money faster than it can be printed.”
Attorney General Pam Bondi: “Today’s ruling by Judge Vinson is an important victory for every person who believes in the freedoms granted to us by our Constitution. This proves that the federal government requiring Americans to purchase health insurance is in fact unconstitutional. In addition, the bipartisan effort from Attorneys General across the country shows the federal government that we will not back down from protecting the constitutional rights of our citizens.”State Rep. Mia Jones, D-Jacksonville, ranking Democrat on state House Health and Human Services Committee: “Out of concern for thousands of uninsured Floridians, I am deeply disappointed by today’s federal court ruling, but I remain confident that federal appeals courts will ultimately uphold the major tenets of the Affordable Care Act.
“I urge opponents of health care reform to look for ways to work in bipartisan fashion to improve our federal and state health care laws by making them better and more affordable. We made just such progress in Florida in our last legislative session when we crafted a better health care bill than the one originally proposed. We must be committed to providing quality preventative healthcare for all Floridians or we can expect to continue pay for these citizens to be served in our emergency rooms at a higher cost.
“I share President Obama’s belief that it remains unacceptable for this state and nation to go back to the days when insurance companies were able to deny someone coverage simply because of a pre-existing condition. Rather than spending public funds attempting to way lay health care reforms in our courts, and instead of re-fighting political battles of the last two years, I urge our state and national leaders to fix what needs fixing with the Affordable Care Act so that our state and nation can move forward with a better and more equitable system of health care.”
Florida Democratic Party Executive Director Scott Arceneaux: “Today’s decision is not only wrong for Florida’s seniors, children and small business owners who are already benefiting from the Affordable Care Act, but this latest example of conservative judicial activism wrongly interprets the Constitution.
“As several other judges around the country have ruled in similar challenges to the needed health care reforms passed by Congress last year, the Affordable Care Act falls well within Congress’s power to regulate economic activity under the Commerce Clause, the Necessary and Proper Clause, and the General Welfare Clause.
“While there have been a number of court rulings regarding health reform and there will be more of them, I am confident that the Affordable Care Act will overcome the challenges to it and the people of Florida will be able to enjoy the full benefits of health insurance reform.”
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio: “Today’s ruling marks an important step towards undoing a health care law that creates uncertainty for job creators, threatens Medicare as Floridians know it and lays the foundation for government-run health care. I commend Attorney General Pam Bondi for her leadership role in preventing ObamaCare’s unconstitutional federal health insurance mandate from becoming a burden to Floridians. I also thank former Attorney General Bill McCollum for initiating this lawsuit under his watch.
“Even before ObamaCare passed, it was clear to the American people that this legislation should not become law. It was clear to the American people who stood up at town halls and ballot boxes across the country and voiced their opinions against it. It was clear to the non-partisan Congressional Research Service, which raised the very concerns about its constitutionality that the federal judge in Pensacola ruled on today. Unfortunately, none of these warning signs compelled ObamaCare’s supporters to take a hard look at the error of their ways.
“ObamaCare was a mistake. However, we cannot leave this decision in the hands of judges alone. The Senate Democrat leadership should follow the House’s lead and hold an up-or-down vote to repeal ObamaCare. The optimal outcome for Florida and the American people is to repeal the federal health care law and replace it with common sense reforms that will lower health care costs and get more Americans insured.”
Florida Senate President Mike Haridopolos: “Today’s court ruling in Pensacola is a victory for all Floridians, who face higher taxes and limited access because of the new federal health care law. With two straight federal courts ruling ObamaCare unconstitutional this sends a clear message to the United States Senate that it should follow the action of the House and repeal the health care law. I call on Senator Bill Nelson to join Senator Marco Rubio in supporting the repeal.”
“If the current health care law is allowed to stand, Floridians will lose. With a 50 percent increase in the Medicaid rolls, Floridians will be forced to pay an additional $1 billion for this unfunded mandate. The new law also limits access to children and seniors by cutting existing programs. This law is clearly wrong for Florida.”
“I congratulate Attorney General Pam Bondi and former Attorney General Bill McCollum, who initiated this lawsuit. I’m confident the ruling will be upheld in appeal.”
U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Tequesta: “Judge Vinson confirmed what I’ve said all along – the requirement to purchase health insurance exceeds Congressional power under the Constitution. Never in our nation’s history has the federal government forced every citizen to purchase a product or service from a private company simply as a requirement of being a citizen. This law is a blatant abuse of the federal government’s power, and it has no basis in the letter or the intent of the Constitution.
“Health care reform doesn’t have to throw the constitution out the window and force unreasonable, costly mandates on individuals and small business owners. We need patient-centered reforms to bring down costs, like instituting medical liability reform and allowing small businesses and families to pool across state lines. We must make sure that every American, particularly those with preexisting conditions, has access to quality, affordable health insurance.”