Is it constitutional? Depends on how far you're willing to twist and distort the original meaning of the Commerce Clause.
The Judge, Henry E. Hudson, of Federal District Court in Richmond Virginia, is set to rule on the Obamacare individual mandate, and his decision could strike the entire law. He is the same judge who sentenced Michael Vick to 23 months in Federal prison for dog fighting.
The absolutely non-political Supreme Court will have the final say.
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Health Law Faces Threat of Undercut From Courts
WASHINGTON — As the Obama administration presses ahead with the health care law, officials are bracing for the possibility that a federal judge in Virginia will soon reject its central provision as unconstitutional and, in the worst case for the White House, halt its enforcement until higher courts can rule.
The judge, Henry E. Hudson of Federal District Court in Richmond, has promised to rule by the end of the year on the constitutionality of the law’s requirement that most Americans obtain insurance, which takes effect in 2014.
Although administration officials remain confident that it is constitutionally valid to compel people to obtain health insurance, they also acknowledge that Judge Hudson’s preliminary opinions and comments could presage the first ruling against the law.
“He’s asked a number of questions that express skepticism,” said one administration official who is examining whether a ruling against part of the law would undermine other provisions. “We have been trying to think through that set of questions,” said the official, who insisted on anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the case freely.
While many newly empowered Republican lawmakers have vowed to repeal the health care law in Congress, a more immediate threat may rest in the federal courts in cases brought by Republican officials in dozens of states. Not only would an adverse ruling confuse Americans and attack the law’s underpinnings, it could frustrate the steps hospitals, insurers and government agencies are taking to carry out the law.
“Any ruling against the act creates another P.R. problem for the Democrats, who need to resell the law to insured Americans,” said Jonathan Oberlander, a University of North Carolina political scientist, who wrote in The New England Journal of Medicine last week that such a ruling “could add to health care reform’s legitimacy problem.”
So far, there has been only one ruling on the merits among nearly two dozen legal challenges to the health care act. Last month, a federal district judge in Michigan upheld the law. But another judge, Roger Vinson of Federal District Court in Pensacola, Fla., has joined Judge Hudson in writing preliminary opinions that seemingly accept key arguments made by state officials challenging the law.
Unlike the judge in Michigan, who was appointed by President Bill Clinton, both Judge Hudson and Judge Vinson were appointed by Republican presidents.
“We are not operating under the assumption that those two judges are inevitably going to rule against us,” the administration official said. “But of course we’re planning for the possibility that judges will reach different conclusions.”
The novel question before the courts is whether the government can require citizens to buy a commercial product like health insurance.
Because the Supreme Court has said the commerce clause of the Constitution allows Congress to regulate “activities that substantially affect interstate commerce,” the judges must decide whether the failure to obtain insurance can be defined as an “activity.”
Lawyers on both sides expect the issue eventually to be decided by the Supreme Court. But the appellate path to that decision could take two years. In the meantime, any district court judge who rules against the law would have to decide whether to block enforcement of one or more of its provisions, potentially creating bureaucratic chaos.
Such a decision would prompt a flurry of appeals, as the Justice Department almost certainly would ask the judge and then the appellate courts to stay, or delay, the injunction pending the outcome of higher court rulings.
Administration officials, as well as some lawyers for the plaintiffs, agree that Judge Hudson seems unlikely, based on his comments from the bench, to enjoin the entire law. The judge volunteered at a hearing last month that his courtroom was “just one brief stop on the way to the Supreme Court.”
This is a very quick must see...
Video: Paul Ryan vs. The Deficit President
Best 5 minutes of the televised healthcare summit.