Federal judge rules health reform unconstitutional

The White House lost the latest round of the healthcare reform battle today when a federal district judge in Virginia ruled that a key healthcare reform provision that forces people to buy health insurance is unconstitutional, according to MSNBC.

Judge Henry E. Hudson, whom President George W. Bush appointed, became the first federal judge to strike a blow at the law, which two other federal judges in Virginia and Michigan had upheld, Associated Press reports.

"This case, however, turns on atypical and uncharted applications of constitutional law interwoven with subtle political undercurrents," Hudson wrote in a 42-page opinion. "The outcome of this case has significant public policy implications. And the final word will undoubtedly reside with a higher court."

The Court sided with Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli when it ruled that the imposition of an individual mandate to purchase private insurance stepped beyond the bounds of Congress' historic Commerce Clause power. Nor can the mandate be reframed as a tax, as it was not designed to raise revenue, but to penalize behavior, the Daily Kos reports.

"We are disappointed in today's ruling but continue to believe--as other federal courts in Virginia and Michigan have found--that the Affordable Care Act is constitutional," said Justice Department spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler, the AP reports.

Because the coverage mandate would not go into effect until 2014, the negative ruling will have virtually no impact on the law's implementation, administration officials said.
 
To learn more:
- read Judge Henry Hudson's ruling on the healthcare law
- here's the MSNBC story
- read the New York Times article
- read the Associated Press article
- read the Daily Kos story

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