by Art Kelly
A federal district court in Virginia found a part of Obamacare unconstitutional, but judicial appeals may keep the law mired in the courts for several years.
Judge Henry Hudson ruled that Section 1501, the Minimum Essential Coverage Provision, of the law (officially called the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act), which requires everyone, beginning in 2014, to purchase health insurance is "beyond constitutional precedent" and "appears to forge new ground and extends the Commerce Clause powers beyond its current high water mark."
In his decision, Hudson also wrote that this provision "is neither within the letter nor the spirit of the Constitution" and that Congress lacks the power "to compel an individual to involuntarily engage in a private commercial transaction…The unchecked expansion of congressional power…would invite unbridled exercise of federal police powers."
However, only Section 1501 of the law was voided and Hudson left all other parts of Obamacare in force.
Although the law lacked a severability clause (a routine provision in most laws stating that if any portion of it is found unconstitutional, the remaining portions are unaffected), Hudson cited several precedents in which courts stated that "the normal rule is that partial, rather than facial, invalidation is the required course."
Interestingly, the Obama Administration had argued that Section 1501 "is the linchpin which provides financial viability to the other critical elements of the overall regulatory scheme" and "the vital kinetic link" of the "overall regulatory reform." Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius had said that, without that provision, it "would undermine the comprehensive regulatory regime."
The Obama Administration scoffed at Hudson's ruling that the law was partially unconstitutional and predicted it would prevail on appeal, according to AFP.
But when Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli advocated immediate appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, which is permitted under certain circumstances, the Department of Justice said they would rather go through the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals. "The Department believes this case should follow the ordinary course of allowing the courts of appeals to hear it first so the issues and arguments can be fully developed before the Supreme Court decides whether to consider it."
If that course is followed, "The ultimate outcome of this case is really up for grabs," Bloomberg reported, indicating "it may be years before the justices resolve the law's constitutionality."
The Washington Post listed the 23 other cases throughout the nation that have been filed against Obamacare.
The most significant is being brought in Florida by 20 states, the National Federation of Independent Businesses, and two individuals. In addition to arguing against Section 1501, this case also contends that Obamacare is unconstitutional by forcing massive new spending on the states for Medicaid. More information is available on the Florida case online at http://www.healthcarelawsuit.us/
The Virginia win over Obamacare was hailed by ConservativeHQ.com's Richard Viguerie as "a victory for the entire Tea Party movement and constitutional conservatives everywhere."
Cuccinelli was praised by Viguerie for his leadership in the fight against Obamacare and said the Virginia Attorney General "has taken his place on the national stage as an important conservative leader."
ConservativeHQ.com has created an online Pledge of Support and Thank You to Cuccinelli for "taking on the Obama administration on behalf of the American people… and appreciation for your leadership in this battle."