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Health Care Lawsuit to Go Forward in Florida

Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum

A handpicked district court judge in Florida rejected a motion to dismiss a lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act, allowing challenges to the constitutionality of the law on two counts to go forward. Attorney General Bill McCollum, forum-shopping to the most conservative city in Florida, Pensacola, for the best opportunity to get a sympathetic judge, filed the suit on behalf of 20 states.

“In this order, I have not attempted to determine whether the line between constitutional and extra-constitutional government has been crossed,” Vinson, of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida, wrote in his ruling.

Opponents of Obama’s overhaul of the $2.5 trillion U.S. healthcare system have said it violates the Constitution by imposing, for example, unlawful taxes and requiring citizens to obtain coverage, among other issues.

“I am only saying that … the plaintiffs have at least stated a plausible claim that the line has been crossed,” Vinson said.

In particular, Judge Vinson allowed two challenges to continue: 1) the individual mandate, the idea that Americans would be forced to purchase health insurance or pay a fine; and 2) the mandate for expanding Medicaid in all states to 133% of the poverty level. Vinson threw out three other challenges to the law, and dismissed a fourth as moot. A separate judge in Detroit ruled last week that the individual mandate was legal and constitutional.

The first hearing in the case will be held December 16, kicking off a process that will in all likelihood last years and end in the Supreme Court.

The full judge’s ruling is here. The 65-page order includes many digressions and side arguments about the nature of a tax, the performance of the US health care system and the political difficulty of individual votes in Congress during the health care debate.

CommunityThe Bullpen

Health Care Lawsuit to Go Forward in Florida

A handpicked district court judge in Florida rejected a motion to dismiss a lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act, allowing challenges to the constitutionality of the law on two counts to go forward. Attorney General Bill McCollum, forum-shopping to the most conservative city in Florida, Pensacola, for the best opportunity to get a sympathetic judge, filed the suit on behalf of 20 states.

“In this order, I have not attempted to determine whether the line between constitutional and extra-constitutional government has been crossed,” Vinson, of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida, wrote in his ruling.

Opponents of Obama’s overhaul of the $2.5 trillion U.S. healthcare system have said it violates the Constitution by imposing, for example, unlawful taxes and requiring citizens to obtain coverage, among other issues.

“I am only saying that … the plaintiffs have at least stated a plausible claim that the line has been crossed,” Vinson said.

In particular, Judge Vinson allowed two challenges to continue: 1) the individual mandate, the idea that Americans would be forced to purchase health insurance or pay a fine; and 2) the mandate for expanding Medicaid in all states to 133% of the poverty level. Vinson threw out three other challenges to the law, and dismissed a fourth as moot. A separate judge in Detroit ruled last week that the individual mandate was legal and constitutional.

The first hearing in the case will be held December 16, kicking off a process that will in all likelihood last years and end in the Supreme Court.

The full judge’s ruling is here. The 65-page order includes many digressions and side arguments about the nature of a tax, the performance of the US health care system and the political difficulty of individual votes in Congress during the health care debate.

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David Dayen

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