Virginia has struck the first legal blow against the federal health care reform act, winning the opening battle in a fight that likely will be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.
In a ruling issued today, U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson concluded that a provision of the federal law which will require individuals to purchase health insurance or pay a penalty to the government is unconstitutional. Hudson sided with Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, who argued that Congress exceeded its authority under the Constitution’s commerce clause by imposing the mandate, which conflicts with state law designed to protect individuals from such a requirement.
Mike Sluss has more on this story.
UPDATED: You can read the ruling here.
Cuccinelli will hold a news conference this afternoon to discuss the ruling.
In the meantime, Del. Bob Marshall, R-Prince William County, who sponsored the Virginia bill that challenged the Obama plan, has issued this statement:
Del. Bob Marshall is hailing today’s U.S. District Court decision in a Virginia lawsuit declaring that the controversial federal health care reform law violates the United States Constitution.
“Judge Hudson’s ruling thwarts a power grab by the Obama Administration and Congress to extend their insidious reach further into our private lives,” Marshall (R., 13th) said.
“Clearly, Judge Hudson understands that the federal government can’t have it both ways in enforcing the Constitution’s Commerce Clause. It makes no sense, legally or otherwise, to expand federal authority over participating in interstate commerce to include those of us who choose not to participate.”
The federal law compels American citizens to contract for health insurance they do not want, do not need, or find morally objectionable. Persons who decline to buy the coverage face fines and imprisonment.
Marshall noted that Judge Hudson’s decision makes it virtually certain that the United States Supreme Court will take up the issue. Federal district judges in several other states already have issued contrary rulings. The Supreme Court usually hears cases in which judges in different federal districts issue conflicting decisions.
Early this year, Marshall, who represents Prince William and Loudoun Counties, was the principal House of Delegates patron of HB 10, the Virginia Health Care Freedom Act exempting state residents from the federal law. Marshall’s bill was passed by overwhelming votes in both houses of the General Assembly and was signed into law by Gov. Bob McDonnell.
HB 10 directly confronts Congress and President Obama on the issue of compelling American citizens to buy health insurance. It gave Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli the legal standing he needed to file the Commonwealth’s lawsuit on which Judge Hudson ruled today.
“The threat of heavy fines and jail time for failure to buy Obamacare health insurance is a power grab without practical limits and has no precedent in American history,” Marshall said. “It undermines our constitutional form of government, and is an affront to free men and women.”
“I introduced HB 10 to ensure a direct confrontation with Congress and President Obama on the federal health care law. I wanted Virginia to get into this very important fight, not avoid it.”