This just in:
To the extent that anything is yet known, there’s a little more here:
The full text of the decision from Federal Judge Roger Vinson is not available yet, but according to reporters who’ve seen the decision, he’s ruled the entire Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act unconstitutional. The ruling favors of the 26 state attorney generals challenging the law. The judge ruled the individual mandate that requires all Americans to purchase health insurance invalid and, according to the decision, “because the individual mandate is unconstitutional and not severable, the entire Act must be declared void.”
UPDATE: Here’s the ruling. The question now is whether it is well reasoned.
UPDATE II: Hallelujah! It is well reasoned. The first part of the opinion (correctly) dismisses the State’s contention that ObamaCare forces them into an impossibly costly Medicaid situation. As the Court points out, Medicaid has always been a voluntary relationship between State and Feds. The fact that the Feds made it more costly doesn’t change its voluntary nature. In a way (although the Court doesn’t say this), the States are like drug addicts whose dealer has jacked up the price. That’s just tough.
Of course, the gist of the opinion goes to the Constitutionality of the individual mandate, and Judge Vinson is, again, right on the money. As the parties and the Court frame it, the question is whether the federal government exceeded its power under the Commerce Clause when it included the individual mandate in ObamaCare. The mandate, as you recall, says that people must buy federally approved insurance or pay a fine. The Court neatly sums up the issue as follows:
At issue here, as in the other cases decided so far, is the assertion that the Commerce Clause can only reach individuals and entities engaged in an “activity”;and because the plaintiffs maintain that an individual’s failure to purchase health insurance is, almost by definition, “inactivity,” the individual mandate goes beyond the Commerce Clause and is unconstitutional. The defendants contend that activity is not required before Congress can exercise its Commerce Clause power, but that,even if it is required, not having insurance constitutes activity. The defendants also claim that the individual mandate is sustainable for the “second reason” that it falls within the Necessary and Proper Clause.
For me, as a conservative, to state the issue is to resolve the issue: The federal government lacks the Constitutional power to coerce people into buying a product they may neither need nor want. If the feds want to change that, they need to amend the Constitution. Judge Vinson, however, doesn’t have the luxury of reaching this straightforward conclusion without carefully going through all of America’s federalist hoops, something that he does clearly and meticulously.
Judge Vinson starts his analysis by citing long-standing Supreme Court law limiting the feds’ power under the Commerce Clause to only three areas: (1) regulating interstate commerce; (2) regulating intrastate activities that have an effect on interstate commerce; and (3) regulating activities that have a substantial relationship to interstate commerce. It is the third category that comes into play here, because it is the most subjective and the broadest in application.
[Ack! Gotta run. I’ll actually publish this and stop here, even though I’ve only reached page 21 of the Court’s decision. Anyone who wants to chime in, making this an interactive summary/analysis, should feel free to do so.]
UPDATE III: Finished taking care of my mother, now taking care of my kids, so there’s not a snowball’s chance in Hell that I’ll be able to finish reading the case today. Fortunately, by this point in time, I don’t have to. Other have waded in: