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Breaking: Federal Judge Rules Health Care Law Unconstitutional

Mandate unconstitutional? (photo: kiranmaxweber via Flickr)

[Ed Note: David Dayen has more on the judge and his ruling.]

MSNBC reports that Judge Roger Vinson of US District Court in Pensacola Florida has just ruled that the health care reform law enacted last year is unconstitutional:

A federal judge has ruled that the health care reform bill signed into law by President Barack Obama in March is unconstitutional.

Today’s decision is the second ruling by a federal judge against the constitutionality of the health care legislation. Two other federal courts have upheld the constitutionality of the law, including its requirement that most Americans buy health insurance or pay a penalty.

While the lawsuit addressed in Vinson’s ruling is the largest of its kind – with 26 states having signed on – today’s decision is likely just one more step in the law’s march to the United States Supreme Court.

Reuters provided background on the case before today’s ruling was issued:

Vinson has suggested strongly that he too will rule the individual mandate oversteps constitutional limits on federal authority. He may also move to invalidate the entire law, by granting the plaintiff states’ request for an injunction to halt its implementation.

“The power that the individual mandate seeks to harness is simply without prior precedent,” Vinson wrote in an earlier opinion in October.

Speaking during another hearing last month, he added that it would be “a giant leap” for the courts to encroach on the freedom of citizens to buy or not buy a commercial product.

The 70-year-old appointee of President Ronald Reagan even noted that he himself had been uninsured, paying out of pocket when the first of his five children was born.

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Jim White

Jim White

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