“Federal Judge to Rule on Health Law’s Constitutionality” [UPDATED: VA WINS]
A Virginia federal judge is expected to rule Monday on whether the Obama administration’s health law violates the Constitution, opening a new stage in the administration’s defense of its biggest legislative achievement.
The ruling by District Judge Henry E. Hudson is perhaps the most significant so far among a slew of state-based legal challenges to the law, which also faces attack by newly resurgent Republicans in Congress. More than 20 federal lawsuits have been filed against the health overhaul since President Barack Obama signed it in March.
While the cases differ somewhat, they largely rest on the argument that Congress lacks constitutional authority to require most Americans to carry health insurance or pay a fee. The Obama administration counters that three clauses of the Constitution gave Congress the power to put the requirement, known as the individual mandate, in the law as part of regulating how people pay for health care.
The Virginia challenge is led by that state’s attorney general, Republican Ken Cuccinelli. Separately, U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson in Pensacola, Fla., on Thursday will hear arguments in a challenge brought by officials in 20 states. He could offer the clearest indication yet of how he will rule.
Supporters of the law are bracing for defeats in Virginia and in Florida. Judges Hudson and Vinson have both shown sympathy to the plaintiffs’ arguments and are GOP appointees.
Two other federal judges, in separate lawsuits in Michigan and Virginia, have already ruled in the administration’s favor on the individual-mandate question. Those cases, along with the other federal cases challenging the law, have a narrower base of plaintiffs than the suits brought in Florida and before Judge Hudson in Virginia.
Even if judges rule the individual mandate unconstitutional, it isn’t likely to stop the law from being carried out for now. Plaintiffs in the Virginia and Florida cases have asked the judges for an injunction to halt the law’s implementation nationwide. But people close to the plaintiffs concede the federal courts are likely to leave the law in place while the challenges go on. Both sides expect the matter to end up at the Supreme Court.
Funding is underway. And the GOP doesn’t look able to stop it.
Business as usual.
And honestly: Is there anyone left these days who believes that the courts are something other than ideological extensions of the political parties — or that the ideological makeup of the Supreme Court at the time this is decided won’t in fact determine the “lawfulness” of the mandate?
Turns out “bracketing” intent and embracing formalism while fetishizing precedent has consequences. Who knew?
update: “Obama’s health care law loses in court”:
A federal judge has struck down the Obama administration’s requirement that all Americans to buy health insurance.
The ruling could gut the historic heath care bill that Obama signed into law this year, but it will undoubtedly be appealed — probably all the way to the Supreme Court.
I’ll post more on the decision as it becomes available.
(thanks to Pablo)