Federal District Court Judge Henry Hudson, of the Eastern District of Virginia, ruled within the last few minutes that the individual mandate provision of the new federal health care law is unconstitutional. News leaked out at noon, when Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli sent a tweet that claimed:
HC ruling is in. Va won this round.
He followed that up with an e-mail about 17 minutes later:
Today, a federal judge in Richmond ruled the individual mandate of the federal health care law UNCONSTITUTIONAL!
In other words — we won!
This won't be the final round, as this will ultimately be decided by the Supreme Court, but today is a critical milestone in the protection of the Constitution.
I am still fully digesting the court's ruling, so I'll get back to you again later with more details, but I wanted you to hear the good news right away.
Thank so many of you for your support to become the Attorney General of Virginia, and your support since then. Today is a day to celebrate those same first principles that our founding fathers articulated over 200 years ago.
We are proud to defend their work and the same first principles today in the 21st century.
Stay tuned — and thank you for your support.
To Judge Hudson's decision. Here are pertinent quotes from his 42 page opinion (see here):
Neither the Supreme Court nor any federal court of appeals has extended Commerce Clause powers to compel an individual to involuntarily enter a stream of commerce by purchasing a commodity in the private market. In doing so, enactment of the Minimum Essential Coverage Provision exceeds the Commerce Clause powers vested in Congress under Article I. ...
The absence of a constitutionally viable exercise of this enumerated power is fatal to the accompanying sanction for noncompliance. ...
A thorough survey of pertinent constitutional case law has yielded no reported decisions from any federal appellate courts extending the Commerce Clause or General Welfare Clause to encompass regulation of a person's decision not to purchase a product, notwithstanding its effect on interstate commerce or role in a global regulatory scheme. The unchecked expansion of congressional power to the limits suggested by the Minimal Essential Coverage Provision would invite unbridled exercise of federal police powers (emphasis added). 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.
Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution confers upon Congress only discrete enumerated governmental powers. The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the states, respectively, or to the people.
On careful review, this Court must conclude that section 1501 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — specifically the Minimum Essential Coverage Provision — exceeds the constitutional boundaries of congressional power.
Judge Hudson, however, did not do two things the Commonwealth asked: He did not place an injunction on the law, stating the individual mandate won't take affect for three more years while acknowledging his decision will be appealed. However, he cited precedent stating that "declaratory judgment is the functional equivalent of an injunction," and noted the Commonwealth conceded the administration is duty-bound to honor the decision.
He also did not invalidate the entire law, saying there were more than 400 provisions unrelated to the specific provision challenged. That, however, gives an idea as to how obnoxiously crafted the legislation was.