It wasn’t a surprise that Federal Judge Roger Vinson found the individual mandate in the Obama health care law to be unconstitutional, but it was a surprise that he declared the whole law void.
It is sort of stark to see the word “unconstitutional” written there. In his opinion, the judge wrote that the law was “void.”
What’s next? Republicans say this gives them new momentum in the Congress to repeal the health law and we may see some parliamentary battling over exactly that in coming days on the Senate floor.
But for now, Democrats are holding fast in favor of the law, even as the judicial branch slings some arrows at it.
There are really four different cases moving through the federal system right now – two in Virginia (one pro, one con); this one in Florida and one in Michigan.
All three are heading for various Courts of Appeal, which will hold hearings and issue rulings in coming months.
After that, we seem likely to head to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Again, I hate to make any predictions about how courts will deal with this issue, but the 4th Circuit (which covers Virginia) and the 11th Circuit (which includes Florida) are both seen as more conservative and more likely to uphold the rulings against the White House.
“The wisest course would be to repeal the health care law and replace it with provisions that actually reduce the cost of health care so more Americans can afford to buy insurance,” said Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN).
On the other side, Democrats again repeated their attack line that this repeal bid was a waste of time.
“The American people want Congress to focus on jobs and the economy, rather than the political spectacle of repealing health care reform,” said Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL).
We’ll see if Republicans in the Senate start to flex their muscles on this issue today, or if they wait to spring the issue on Democrats.
There will be a nicely-timed hearing on Wednesday in the Senate on the constitutionality of the health reform law – this ruling from Judge Roger Vinson is certain to spice up that hearing.
One has to wonder if this ruling will mean a bit of health care infighting gets injected into the upcoming battle over the budget, as Republicans look to cut out money in the current budget year.
And to think that a year ago, Democrats openly scoffed at the idea that any of this health plan could run afoul of the Constitution.
That shows why you play the games.