U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson of Virginia ruled that the individual mandate in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) is an unconstitutional expansion of the U.S. Constitution’s Commerce Clause. The ruling is a win for Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and considered the first major defeat for the Obama administration on PPACA. Despite ruling that one part of the law violates the U.S. Constitution, Judge Hudson denied an injunction to stop implementation of the law.
In a key portion of his ruling, Judge Hudson said, "[t]he unchecked expansion of congressional power to the limits suggested by the Minimum Essential Coverage Provision would invite unbridled exercise of federal police power. At its core, this dispute is not simply about regulating the business of insurance-or crafting a scheme of universal health insurance coverage-it's about an individual's right to choose to participate."
During the oral arguments in October, Judge Hudson said, “As you well know, this is only one brief stop on the way to the United States Supreme Court.”
On Thursday, December 9, Judge Roger Vinson in Florida will hear oral arguments on the case filed by Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum alongside 20 other states challenging the constitutionality of the health reform law. Previously, Judge Vinson called one of the Obama administration’s arguments on the health care law an “Alice in Wonderland” defense.
The Obama Administration has won rulings on other challenges to the health reform law. Two federal judges, one in Michigan and one in Virginia, have already ruled that PPACA does not violate the Commerce Clause.
Click here to read the full opinion issued by Judge Hudson.
Click here to read the White House's response to Judge Hudson's decision.