Federal judge rules ObamaCare is unconstitutional in its entirety

posted at 4:23 pm on January 31, 2011 by Allahpundit

A nice win, if only because it’s fun to watch the left sweat, but as we’ve discussed before, these lower-court decisions are virtually meaningless. There’s no question that the Supreme Court will eventually take this matter up, and given how profound the constitutional objection to the mandate is, there’s no chance that they’ll let “deference” to lower-court rulings shape their opinion on the matter. What we’re doing with these district court rulings — which now stand evenly split on ObamaCare, two finding it constitutional and two not — is going through the procedural motions until the Supremes get down to business. The only bit of significance these decisions might have is that they may move the Overton window of possible outcomes in Anthony Kennedy’s mind. After O-Care was passed, I remember some constitutional law experts citing the Court’s liberal Commerce Clause jurisprudence and claiming that they’d probably uphold it on something like an 8-1 vote. That seems impossible now; I’d bet 6-3 at worst, with a very fair chance of a 5-4 win for conservatives. The more anti-ObamaCare lower court rulings there are, the more political cover Kennedy has to vote with the conservative wing of the Court if he’s so inclined. If.

Here’s a PDF of the opinion. The judge, Roger Vinson, is a Reagan appointee who didn’t hide his skepticism about the law during oral arguments, so the baseline ruling isn’t surprising. A fun hypothetical about the government’s power to force citizens to buy things they don’t want to:

Or what if two of the purported “unique” factors [of the health-care market] — inevitable participation coupled with cost-shifting — are present? For example, virtually no one can opt out of the housing market (broadly defined) and a majority of people will at some point buy a home. The vast majority of those homes will be financed with a mortgage, a large number of which (particularly in difficult economic times, as we have seen most recently) will go into default, thereby cost-shifting billions of dollars to third parties and the federal government. Should Congress thus have power under the Commerce Clause to preemptively regulate and require individuals above a certain income level to purchase a home financed with a mortgage (and secured with mortgage guaranty insurance) in order to add stability to the housing and financial markets (and to guard against the possibility of future cost-shifting because of a defaulted mortgage), on the theory that most everyone is currently, or inevitably one day will be, active in the housing market?

The left will scoff at the supposed absurdity of his example, but there’s nothing absurd about it. This sort of sweeping power to compel purchases to achieve a public good is precisely what’s at stake in the mandate.

What is a bit surprising is that Vinson went further and held that the mandate isn’t “severable” from the rest of the law — which means that the whole law is unconstitutional, not just the part that requires people to buy insurance. That’s unusual insofar as courts like to be modest when striking down statutes; if they can find a section of it unconstitutional while preserving the rest of it, they’ll do so out of respect for the democratic branches that enacted it. In this case, however, as we’ve been told by Democrats many times, you can’t have universal health care unless you force people to pay for it. Cutting the mandate out of O-Care and keeping the rest of the scheme intact would create a nightmare scenario in which people avoid buying insurance until they get sick, with insurers required to accept them by the new rules governing preexisting conditions. Before long, that cost burden would drive most insurers into bankruptcy, with the golden age of a public option or single-payer soon to follow.

Which is to say, if you’re going to kill this beast, you’d better kill all of it. Vinson on severability:

In the final analysis, this Act has been analogized to a finely crafted watch, and that seems to fit. It has approximately 450 separate pieces, but one essential piece (the individual mandate) is defective and must be removed. It cannot function as originally designed. There are simply too many moving parts in the Act and too many provisions dependent (directly and indirectly) on the individual mandate and other health insurance provisions — which, as noted, were the chief engines that drove the entire legislative effort — for me to try and dissect out the proper from the improper, and the able-to-stand-alone from the unable-to-stand-alone. Such a quasi-legislative undertaking would be particularly inappropriate in light of the fact that any statute that might conceivably be left over after this analysis is complete would plainly not serve Congress’ main purpose and primary objective in passing the Act. The statute is, after all, called “The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,” not “The Abstinence Education and Bone Marrow Density Testing Act.” The Act, like a defectively designed watch, needs to be redesigned and reconstructed by the watchmaker.

If Congress intends to implement health care reform — and there would appear to be widespread agreement across the political spectrum that reform is needed — it should do a comprehensive examination of the Act and make a legislative determination as to which of its hundreds of provisions and sections will work as intended without the individual mandate, and which will not. It is Congress that should consider and decide these quintessentially legislative questions, and not the courts…

Because the individual mandate is unconstitutional and not severable, the entire Act must be declared void. This has been a difficult decision to reach, and I am aware that it will have indeterminable implications. At a time when there is virtually unanimous agreement that health care reform is needed in this country, it is hard to invalidate and strike down a statute titled “The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.”

A fun fact about ObamaCare: Unlike virtually every other federal statute, it contains no “severabililty clause” at the end requesting that if any part of it should be held unconstitutional in court, the rest should be preserved as good law. Vinson actually mentions that fact in the opinion and notes that an earlier draft of the law did contain such a clause, suggesting that it was deliberately dropped because even Congress agrees that you can’t sever any one part from such an elaborate scheme. The truth, however, may be more prosaic: According to a Democratic aide who spoke to the Times back in November, the clause was omitted because of … an “oversight.” Oops!


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MEET JUDGE ROGER VINSON — THE MAN WITH THE BIG FUZZY NUTS

This man may have single–handedly killed Obama Care!

Nearly Nobody on February 1, 2011 at 2:07 AM

Crr6 is wanting to practice judicial activism plain.

F15Mech on February 1, 2011 at 2:56 AM

Haha, yes of course. And I worked for a federal judge last summer.
crr6 on February 1, 2011 at 1:27 AM

What did you learn?

F15Mech on February 1, 2011 at 3:04 AM

Why do we have one Sheriff Joe among over three thousand others? Why do we have one Judge Vinson among so many others? We have one Constitution here in the USA that has served us for over two hundred years. Where have we gone wrong? The whole country needs to get back on track or we are headed to the point of no return. We need to clean up this mess, the quicker the better.

mixplix on February 1, 2011 at 3:08 AM

If the individual mandate is Constitutional that means there is nothing the government cannot force you to do. If you want to boycott buses because of racial segregation the government can order you to ride the buses, for example. (Thanks Aaron Worthing.) If the government can force you do do anything it wants, you are not a free man or woman. You become a slave or serf owned by that government. I do not think by any stretch of the imagination the Constitution was drafted to permit that to happen.

{^_^}

herself on February 1, 2011 at 3:10 AM

Exactly right herself. Obamacare tells law abiding citizens what they have to do and when. Jury duty, the draft, and military service are acceptable because they relate to specific provisions of the Constitution. But conscription into Obamacare is simply to achieve the social engineering goals desired by a bunch of politicians who have since been thrown out.

pedestrian on February 1, 2011 at 3:37 AM

Logical, coherent….this judge should run for president in 2012.

smylatu on February 1, 2011 at 5:19 AM

Couldn’t a Republican President essentially destroy Obamacare by announcing that he is giving a waiver to every individual and organization that asks for one?

tommyboy on February 1, 2011 at 6:29 AM

tommyboy on February 1, 2011 at 6:29 AM

dear leader is about half way there now, soon he will be telling us who doesn’t have a waiver yet…

cmsinaz on February 1, 2011 at 6:38 AM

dear leader is about half way there now, soon he will be telling us who doesn’t have a waiver yet…
cmsinaz on February 1, 2011 at 6:38 AM

Those without waivers are those who didn’t support Obama’s camapign. Waivers will be new bribe bait.

tommyboy on February 1, 2011 at 6:42 AM

tommyboy on February 1, 2011 at 6:42 AM

yepper….

cmsinaz on February 1, 2011 at 6:53 AM

The judge? He certainly has more experience, but FWIW I go to a much better law school than Vandy, and I’ll be working INTERNING for a much more prestigious firm than Beggs & Lane this summer. Not that it matters…but hey, you’re the one who brought up credentials.

crr6 on January 31, 2011 at 11:51 PM

FIFY – I’m sure that was just a typo, right? You wouldn’t inflate your creds on an internet message board, would ya?

/

fossten on February 1, 2011 at 7:11 AM

Here’s my take. What a great day!

kingsjester on February 1, 2011 at 8:16 AM

*Everything* goes to the supreme court now. There is something wrong with that.

Congress should be doing a better job so the supreme court doesn’t get involved. We live in a democratic republic where the will of the majority should decide issues, not deep pocketed special interest groups who can waste time and money forcing issues to the supreme court.

We’re being terrorized by the tyranny of the minority who simply will not accept the will of the majority.

Skandia Recluse on January 31, 2011 at 4:30 PM

And when the will of the “majority” is clearly unconstitutional?

conservativecaveman on February 1, 2011 at 8:17 AM

Here’s my take. What a great day!

kingsjester on February 1, 2011 at 8:16 AM

excellent KJ…

:)

cmsinaz on February 1, 2011 at 8:21 AM

Pray for Justice Kennedy. The fate of the Republic lays at his feet.

WordsMatter on February 1, 2011 at 8:21 AM

Cleaning his house may be “working for a federal judge” but it isn’t a clerkship.

JohnTant on February 1, 2011 at 8:21 AM

All of you people here have been talking solid principled common sense on this thread. Such language drives Liberals (such as crr6) absolutely mad, which leads to overdose and other forms of self abusive behavior. You all probably caused crr6 to plow through 1/2 of her monthly prescription last night. This could be grounds for a frivolous law suit, especially from those Liberals who attend law school and are well schooled on the business of personal gain by way of frivolous law suits…

Tread carefully here gang…
(S)

Keemo on February 1, 2011 at 8:21 AM

cmsinaz on February 1, 2011 at 8:21 AM

Thanks!

kingsjester on February 1, 2011 at 8:22 AM

ProudPalinFan on January 31, 2011 at 10:00 PM

Yes, and I ate the whole thing…
The wife and I had not been out for dinner in several months. Twas a great night…
We both make our living in the construction industry. Not much room for such date nights at this point. However, that decision yesterday gives us both hope that their remains men/woman in important positions that are protectors of our way of life. This brought about reason for celebration.

Allah boldly stated that this decision was virtually meaningless… The wife and I found it to be very meaningful…

Keemo on February 1, 2011 at 8:40 AM

http://www.cato-at-liberty.org/florida-ruling-requires-government-to-stop-implementing-obamacare/

Meaningless my a*s….

Keemo on February 1, 2011 at 9:09 AM

Thanks for posting. The media (including Allah) is largely missing this and assuming that Vinson issued a stay pending appeal. That is not the case, or at least it wasn’t the case by close of day yesterday.

Obamacare is null and void RIGHT NOW. The feds must stop implementing it immediately.

They won’t, of course.

Missy on February 1, 2011 at 9:17 AM

Chuck Schick on January 31, 2011 at 8:10 PM

That’s why I doubt she’s actually a citizen or even living here. Americans are actually very smart about such things.

If the bill and this process of pinging deductions is left in place, it will be a fiscal disaster. ODumbAss will then give the power to the IRS to come after you, to fix the disaster.

dogsoldier on February 1, 2011 at 9:24 AM

Missy on February 1, 2011 at 9:17 AM

Wouldn’t it be fun to see Sebelius held in contempt of court for proceeding with implementation? Sorry that is not very nice, but hey rulings like this don’t come along everyday. I’d like a little license to gloat for a day or so.

txmomof6 on February 1, 2011 at 9:33 AM

txmomof6 on February 1, 2011 at 9:33 AM

Amen to that!

Keemo on February 1, 2011 at 9:37 AM

Can’t wait to see Palin’s FB post on this decision and all the other potential GOP hopefuls’ comments (not likely)!

txmomof6 on February 1, 2011 at 10:05 AM

I remember the discussion slightly differently though. First you didn’t know the bill expressly prohibits criminal liability, so I corrected you. Then you didn’t know the IRS planned to collect the tax penalty by deducting it from tax refunds, so I corrected you on that. Finally, you didn’t know that roughly 75% of tax-paying Americans receive a tax refund, so I corrected you on that as well.

crr6 on January 31, 2011 at 8:18 PM

Hey, remember a couple months ago when you said the IRS had no mechanism for enforcing the penalty, and I told you that you were a lying liar who lies because Doug Shulman, the Commissioner of Internal Revenue, said you were wrong?

I guess you didn’t understand the bill very well either.

Good Solid B-Plus on February 1, 2011 at 10:44 AM

For the record, when we win this thing at the SCOTUS level, my endzone dance is going to be indescribable. I’ll film it and send it to crr so he has something to watch as he’s crying into his Zima.

Good Solid B-Plus on February 1, 2011 at 10:46 AM

txmomof6 on February 1, 2011 at 9:33 AM

Absolutely!

Missy on February 1, 2011 at 10:50 AM

Hey, remember a couple months ago when you said the IRS had no mechanism for enforcing the penalty, and I told you that you were a lying liar who lies because Doug Shulman, the Commissioner of Internal Revenue, said you were wrong?

I guess you didn’t understand the bill very well either.

Good Solid B-Plus on February 1, 2011 at 10:44 AM

That silly thing is so in over her head here at this site…

Keemo on February 1, 2011 at 10:54 AM

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2011/02/01/republicans-look-build-steam-repeal-judges-health-law-ruling/

Republicans are acting quickly to capitalize on a federal judge’s sweeping ruling against the new health care law, renewing a push for a repeal vote in the Senate while clamoring for the Supreme Court to weigh in.

Again, meaningless was a poor choice of words.

Keemo on February 1, 2011 at 11:18 AM

Are there any reporters covering the story from the point of view of the affected Executive Branch Departments being in limbo? I would love to see someone asking the IRS what they are planning to do about the 1099 requirement for example. Not to mention all the other agencies this law authorizes. Chaos and consternation among the bureaucrats, what a lovely thought.

txmomof6 on February 1, 2011 at 11:38 AM

Are there any reporters covering the story from the point of view of the affected Executive Branch Departments being in limbo?

txmomof6 on February 1, 2011 at 11:38 AM

Not that I am aware of. There is almost zero reporting on even the notion that the law is voided effective immediately.

I love the idea of chaos among the bureaucrats, but as far as I can tell, all the major outlets are apparently under the assumption that a stay was issued.

Missy on February 1, 2011 at 11:59 AM

FIFY – I’m sure that was just a typo, right? You wouldn’t inflate your creds on an internet message board, would ya?

/

fossten on February 1, 2011 at 7:11 AM

It’s not an internship. It’s a position as a summer associate, and the firm gives roughly 100% of its summer associates offers for a full time position as an associate after graduation. Sorry bro, looks like I didn’t inflate anything.

Hey, remember a couple months ago when you said the IRS had no mechanism for enforcing the penalty
Good Solid B-Plus on February 1, 2011 at 10:44 AM

Uh, no.

What did you learn?

F15Mech on February 1, 2011 at 3:04 AM

Plenty. Thanks for asking. It really was a great experience.

crr6 on February 1, 2011 at 12:31 PM

Good Solid B-Plus on February 1, 2011 at 10:44 AM

Here is the thing. Socialist tyrants craft disasters they can capitalize on to increase their own power.

When we brainy taxpayers up our dependents u on our W2′s a couple three things are going to result.

I see ODumbAss reacting with thug tactics to the lack of “revenue”.

dogsoldier on February 1, 2011 at 12:38 PM

CRR6 is still pretending that she goes to law school. And not just any law school but a “very prestiguous law school.” And to top that off, she is going to work for a “very prestigious firm” as a summer associate.

she’s only been going to law school for about 5 years now, so I’m sure that she has learned quite a bit since she is apparently ending her 2nd year – leading to a summer associate position.

She, like obama, is a true constitutional scholar.

Monkeytoe on February 1, 2011 at 1:14 PM

Headline aol news: White House Confident Law is Constitutional

Problem: citizens not convinced law is constitutional

What happens if the Supremes decide Ocare IS constitutional? Some will go along with it in the name of being law-abiding, but many won’t. The waivers are a big issue, everybody will want one. It will actually motivate many to break the law. What a mess.

jodetoad on February 1, 2011 at 1:42 PM

And not just any law school but a “very prestiguous law school.” And to top that off, she is going to work for a “very prestigious firm” as a summer associate.

Pretty much, yeah. I’m not sure why this bothers you. Jealous much?

she’s only been going to law school for about 5 years now

And I’m not sure why you keep saying that. I’ve been in law school since the fall of 2009, and I’ve never claimed otherwise. In fact, I remember the first time I mentioned I was in law school, it was in this thread….in fall of 2009.

crr6 on February 1, 2011 at 1:45 PM

What happens if the Supremes decide Ocare IS constitutional? Some will go along with it in the name of being law-abiding, but many won’t. The waivers are a big issue, everybody will want one. It will actually motivate many to break the law. What a mess.

jodetoad on February 1, 2011 at 1:42 PM

What happens when the first company denied a waiver challenges that denial in court?

Has anyone researched party campaign donations vs granting of waivers?

slickwillie2001 on February 1, 2011 at 1:48 PM

I’ve been in law school since the fall of 2009, and I’ve never claimed otherwise. In fact, I remember the first time I mentioned I was in law school, it was in this thread….in fall of 2009.

crr6 on February 1, 2011 at 1:45 PM

Is it correspondence college? Because I’m guessing real law students don’t spend day and night being a jackwad on anonymous discussion forums.

Chuck Schick on February 1, 2011 at 2:29 PM

Because I’m guessing real law students don’t spend day and night being a jackwad on anonymous discussion forums.

Chuck Schick on February 1, 2011 at 2:29 PM

It’s actually wonderful practice for being insufferable jackwads in our future careers.

crr6 on February 1, 2011 at 2:38 PM

Intrade.com has “The US Supreme Court to rule individual mandate unconstitutional before midnight ET 31 Oct 2011″ trading below $10 (in other words, chance of this happening deemed less than 10%).
If I were a gambling man, I would take that bet.
Anyone have any thoughts why this is so low?

topdog on February 1, 2011 at 3:37 PM

It’s actually wonderful practice for being insufferable jackwads in our
future careers.
crr6 on February 1, 2011 at 2:38 PM

I have a serious, non-snarky, question for you. Why do you seem to think your law school pedigree matters so much? I’d have to hazard a pretty safe guess and say that you’ll gain vastly more skill and knowledge as a lawyer AFTER you graduate and have a regular gig.

A prestigious school is mainly a resume-enhancement, nothing more. Do Vanderbilt students use different source material than Harvard students? It’s the same stuff. Granted, you undoubtedly have more qualified teachers, but I suspect even that is a bit overblown in terms of the quality of the lawyers they produce. Harvard-educated Chuck Schumer didn’t know the 3 branches of government, FFS. Schoolin’ ain’t experience, and your arguments here shouldn’t require the qualifier that “I attend a prestigious law school” to be valid.

spinach.chin on February 1, 2011 at 4:35 PM

It’s actually wonderful practice for being insufferable jackwads in our future careers.

crr6 on February 1, 2011 at 2:38 PM

I think we can all agree that in that regard you are supremely talented.

Scrappy on February 1, 2011 at 6:30 PM

spinach.chin on February 1, 2011 at 4:35 PM

Narcissistic law student has fetish for narcissitic president. And, like all narcissists, she thinks she invented the phenomenon.

The Bible is right again. There really is nothing new under the sun. Just the same old retread: overeducated, underexperienced people think they can run the world–and everytime they try, disaster ensues.

Grace_is_sufficient on February 1, 2011 at 8:57 PM

Intrade.com has “The US Supreme Court to rule individual mandate unconstitutional before midnight ET 31 Oct 2011″ trading below $10 (in other words, chance of this happening deemed less than 10%).
If I were a gambling man, I would take that bet.
Anyone have any thoughts why this is so low?

topdog on February 1, 2011 at 3:37 PM

Maybe the element of it being determined by October 31st? Is that the last day of the Term for the SCOTUS? For a legal review, that seems to be very quick, or would that be doable if the SC wanted to hear it quickly?

Red State State of Mind on February 1, 2011 at 10:18 PM

I have a serious, non-snarky, question for you. Why do you seem to think your law school pedigree matters so much?

I don’t think it does, at least for purposes of having a debate on the internet. As I said before, I brought it up because another poster said the judge has better “credentials” than me.

crr6 on February 1, 2011 at 11:57 PM

One has to love the irony of the lefties claiming that a judge defending the idea of limited-federal government is “judicial activism.”

That’s a hoot!

shorebird on February 2, 2011 at 12:45 AM

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