REPUBLICAN JUDGE STRIKES DOWN ENTIRE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT…. Today’s biggest domestic political development is also the least surprising.
A second federal judge ruled on Monday that it was unconstitutional for Congress to enact a health care law that requires all Americans to obtain commercial insurance, evening the score at two-to-two in the lower courts as the conflicting opinions begin their path to the Supreme Court.
Judge Roger Vinson of Federal District Court in Pensacola, Fla., ruled that the law will remain effect until all appeals are concluded, a process that could take two years. However, Judge Vinson determined that the entire law should fall if appellate courts agree with his opinion that the insurance requirement if invalid.
It can be tough to keep track of all the health care litigation — there are nearly two dozen cases — but this was the one brought by conservative state officials from 26 states, who carefully chose the venue.
Vinson had already telegraphed the outcome, so the ruling just makes official what everyone expected anyway.
First Update: Note that when Judge Henry Hudson of Virginia, a Bush appointee, reached a similar conclusion in December, in a ruling that no one seemed to think made any sense, he said the individual mandate is unconstitutional, but left the rest of the law intact. Reagan appointee Vinson, however, took a far more activist approach, striking down a massive piece of legislation because of one provision.
Republicans are thrilled, of course, because activist court rulings are to be celebrated, just so long as it’s activism the right can agree with.
Second Update: It’s also worth emphasizing that two Republican-appointed federal district court judges have now found that the individual mandate — an idea Republicans came up with — is unconstitutional. And while that’s important, let’s not forget two other federal district court judges, appointed by Democratic presidents, came to the opposite conclusion.
Indeed, overall, about a dozen federal courts have dismissed challenges to the health care law.
In other words, when you hear on the news that “courts” have a problem with the Affordable Care Act, remember that it’s actually a minority of the judges who’ve heard cases related to the law.