Florida court holds Obamacare unconstitutional UPDATE

Federal District Court Judge Roger Vinson of the Northern District of Florida has just ruled that the individual mandate in Obamacare, that all must purchase insurance or pay a penalty, is unconstitutional.  This was the lawsuit brought by the State of Florida in which 25 other states joined.  Given the comments by the court during oral argument last December, the ruling comes as no real surprise.

I have not had an opportunity to read the opinion, but, will update this post as soon as I do so.


Judge Vinson’s 78 page opinion not only declares the individual mandate unconstitutional, but also, under the legal concept of “severability”, declares the entire law unconstitutional.

First, on the individual mandate, the court spends a considerable amount of time analyzing not only the interstate commerce clause, but also the Supreme Court decisions interpreting Congress’s power under it.  But, in finding that “activity” is an indispensable part of what Congress can regulate, the court stated, at page 42,

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.

The court then considered the question of whether the failure to purchase health insurance was in fact, an “activity” as contemplated by the interstate commerce clause.  In holding that it was not, the court stated it found no difference between that, and, for example, the failure to purchase broccoli, or to purchase a GM car. (see page 46)

[The] mere status of being without health insurance, in and of itself, has absolutely no impact whatsoever on interstate commerce ) not ‘slight’, ‘trivial’ or ‘indirect’), but no impact whatsoever–at least not anymore so than the status of being without any particular good or service. (emphasis in original, see page 50)

The court then declared all of Obamacare to be unconstitutional under the doctrine of “severability”.  Severability clauses are common in legislation.  They provide that “if any part of this law is found to be unconstitutional, then the rest of the law will survive.”  Obamacare does not contain such a clause, although, as the court points out, original versions of Obamacare did.  The absence of such a clause is not fatal, but the court did state that the government, in its argument, called the individual mandate “essential”, and Congress did as well.  Refusing to go through all 2700 pages of Obamacare line by line to separate what is dependent upon the individual mandate and what is not, the court held, at page 73,

There are simply too many moving parts in the Act and too many provisions dependent (directly and indirectly) on the individual mandate and other health insurance provisions…for me to try and dissect proper from improper…

Thus, under Judge Vinson’s ruling the entire act is unconstitutional.

Of course, this decision will be appealed to the United States 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, and, I would guess, ultimately to the United States Supreme Court.

13 replies
  1. Dimsdale
    Dimsdale says:

    What part of "limited and enumerated powers" do the Congresscritters not understand?  Of course, considering Chuck Schumer's inability to comprehend the most basic concept of what comprises the three branches of government, the more specific details must be most difficult for him and his political cronies.


    It makes one wonder how they got through the 2700 page bill in the first place.  Oh yeah, none of them actually read it…

  2. sammy22
    sammy22 says:

    Well, even the good judge did not pour over the 2700 or so pages. He chose something "easy" and let it go at that.

  3. Dimsdale
    Dimsdale says:

    I suspect his 78 page decision would have swelled to equal proportions if he had " to go through all 2700 pages of Øbamacare line by line to separate what is dependent upon the individual mandate and what is not".  As he states, the Gordian web of interwoven, unfathomable regulations and stipulations makes the job nearly impossible.


    Speedy justice is a must, but ramming a juggernaut through like this at relative light speed, without review by the public or the very legislators voting on it, should be sufficient to get it bounced.  It was certainly sufficient to get many of the hacks that signed on to it bounced.


    The fact that it is being shown to be unconstitutional is just icing on the cake.

  4. kenkuhl
    kenkuhl says:

    My wife works for the Cracker Barrel Old Country Store chain. She just yesterday received a letter stating the the company had to apply for an exemption from HHS for this coming calendar year because if they hadn't, her premiums would have gone up or her coverage down. I have the letter if anyone would like to see it right from a major US employer!

  5. WagTheDog
    WagTheDog says:

    I heard last night on one the Fox shows that one of the Democrats is saying this is judicial activism and  won't hold up.  Oh, like Roe v Wade hasn't held up.  And since when was interpreting the Constitution and how it applies to a law making law from the bench?  If you go that way, Chief Justice John Marshall's court should be considered Judicial Activism and struck down.  Oh, wait.  There's the fair use tax – isn't that a direct violation of the rulings?  Hummmm…..Though we have a good start in the lower courts, I can only hope that this trend continues up the chain.

  6. sammy22
    sammy22 says:

    If somebody wrote it, that somebody must/could have read it. The guys who voted on it most likely did not read it (bad, bad, bad), but neither did the judge. To his credit he admitted it.

  7. brianh
    brianh says:

    Now Sammy…Judge Vinson read the bill in order to write his opinion. He just said he wasn't gonna try and interpret what sections were considered dependent on the individual mandate by each aide/lobbyist who wrote the individual sections. He's not responsible for doing so, given that Obama/Pelosi/Reid couldn't get the required votes with the severability clause included!

  8. sammy22
    sammy22 says:

    Now brianh, how do you know that Judge Vinson read the bill? Perhaps you wish so, since it seems to fit your agenda.

  9. brianh
    brianh says:


    To clarify my agenda, it's the survival of our republic and the avoidance of bankruptcy, authoritarian rule & economic dependency of the lower/middle class.

  10. sammy22
    sammy22 says:

    Try as I might, I don't see how your stated agenda fits in w/ Judge Vinson's reading or not reading the 2700 pages of the bill he issued a ruling on.

  11. Lynn
    Lynn says:

    Sammy22, We are just getting a kick out of you. There's no need to comment when you deliberately misread the judge's quote.

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