Judge Roger Vinson of the Northern District of Florida has ruled that because the individual mandate part of the law, the part that requires each person to purchase insurance, is unconstitutional, and because that part of the law cannot be severed from the rest of the law, the whole thing must be declared unconstitutional.
This is enormously significant news. If the ruling withstands appeal, the last two years, during which the Democrat party essentially invested all of their energy, focus and political capital to get this bill passed, and which effort ultimately cost them a historic defeat in last November's election, was all for nothing.
It's obvious that Judge Vinson ruled on the law's merits and not on what he wished were the case. Here's what he said:
Because the individual mandate is unconstitutional and not severable, the entire Act must be declared void. This has been a difficult decision to reach, and I am aware that it will have indeterminable implications. At a time when there is virtually unanimous agreement that health care reform is needed in this country, it is hard to invalidate and strike down a statute titled "The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act."And also this:
It is difficult to imagine that a nation which began, at least in part, as the result of opposition to a British mandate giving the East India Company a monopoly and imposing a nominal tax on all tea sold in America would have set out to create a government with the power to force people to buy tea in the first place.Health care reform was the one thing President Obama could claim as a genuine accomplishment going into the 2012 campaign season. Now it appears that he has nothing. Events can change that, of course, but right now the Democrats must be feeling pretty empty.