Obamacare illegal?

Last week, a vote to repeal Obamacare gathered more votes than last time around and only narrowly missed passage. But then it was declared unconstitutional anyway…

The basics.

Late Monday afternoon in Pensacola, Fla., U.S. District Court Judge Roger Vinson delivered the second major judgment that the centerpiece of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act—the “individual mandate” that forces Americans to buy health insurance whether or not they want it—is unconstitutional.

In December, District Court Judge Henry Hudson ruled against the mandate in a separate lawsuit brought by the state of Virginia. But Judge Vinson’s sweeping and powerfully reasoned decision this week went much further, striking down the entire health-reform law on the grounds that the individual mandate was not severable from the rest of the statute. And the plaintiffs in Judge Vinson’s courtroom included the attorneys general of 26 states, not just one. His opinion thus casts a dark shadow over ObamaCare until the Supreme Court issues a final ruling on the matter.

The sooner the better. If this gets drawn out in appeals courts for the next couple of years, nobody wins. Until it’s decided, the arguments go on…

Now that the constitutionality of the individual mandate under the Commerce Clause has come under fire, proponents of Obamacare are attempting to shift the debate onto what they view as friendlier ground—the broader power of Congress to impose taxes.


When it comes to the legislation itself, the key question actually comes down to semantics. It’s broadly agreed that tax breaks are constitutional. The individual mandate could’ve been called the “personal responsibility tax.”

Something so basic as this should be clear. But…

It’s not at all clear that Congress should be able to pass something under the rubric of a penalty and then later defend it as an exercise of its taxation policy. That kind of switcheroo is not just semantics…it has actual constitutional implications.

Which gets back to the ruling at hand. And what it means when applied.

Using crystal clear language, the Judge argues that the government should not enforce a law that a judge declares unconstitutional.


the Obama administration appears willing to ignore the court’s decision and continue to enforce the law. So, in light of the federal government’s decision, what is the point of have the Constitution or a legal system at all?

The administration is probably eager to ignore that ruling, given the federal judge’s explicit decision and reasons for it.

The Framers believed that limiting federal power, and allowing the “residual” power to remain in the hands of the states (and of the people), would help “ensure protection of our fundamental liberties” and “reduce the risk of tyranny and abuse.”

That’s the point of the Constitution and its original intent, and it is driving the popular activism in the country…and what drove it to replace so much of Congress.


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