Today United States District Court Judge Henry Hudson from the Eastern District of Virginia issued his ruling in Virginia’s challenge to Obamacare. He found that the provision requiring all to purchase insurance or pay a penalty (Section 1501) was unconstitutional.
UPDATE: Highlights of Judge Hudson’s opinion now up.
UPDATE 2: Below the fold we have added video of Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli who states the Obamacare legislation is critical to maintaining some semblance of personal freedom in America. It’s a good listen.
UPDATE: You can find the Virginia court’s 42 page opinion here. But, I will take some time providing quotes from the opinion which will explain both the court’s decision, and, the court’s rationale.
When discussing whether the individual mandate was a valid exercise of Congress’s power to regulate interstate commerce, the court stated, at page 21,
Despite the laudable goals of Congress in enacting a comprehensive and transformative health care regime, the legislative process must still operate within Constitutional bounds. Salutatory goals and creative drafting have never been sufficient to offset the absence of enumerated powers. [emphasis supplied]
The court then held, at page 24,
Neither the Supreme Court nor any federal court has extended Commerce Clause powers to compel an individual to involuntarily enter the stream of commerce by purchasing a commodity in the private market. In so doing, enactment of the Minimum Essential Coverage Provision exceeds the Commerce Clause powers…
The court next considered whether the individual mandate would be permitted as a valid exercise of Congress’s power to tax. And, here is where the opinion gets quite interesting, as it takes the government to task (politely, of course) for now claiming that the penalty to be paid for not having qualified coverage, really is a tax after all. At page 33, the court holds,
In concluding that Congress did not intend to exercise its powers of taxation under the General Welfare Clause, this court’s analysis begins with the unequivocal denials by the Executive and legislative branches that the [individual mandate] was a tax. [emphasis supplied]
The court then notes that all of the earlier versions of Obamacare specifically used the word “tax”, but, it was not until the final version passed on Christmas eve that the word “penalty’ was substituted. Thus, if Congress originally intended that it be a tax, that intent was changed, and the final wording governs.
But, it is the court’s observation, at page 37 that struck me.
At its core, this dispute is not simply about regulating the business of insurance – or crafting a scheme of universal health coverage – it’s about an individual’s right to choose not to participate. [emphasis supplied]
And, that pretty much sums it up for me, too.
UPDATE 2: Here’s Ken Cuccinelli’s comments shortly after the decision was handed down. “If we can be forced to purchase health insurance, there is no limit as to what the government can force you to purchase.”