Monday, May 27, 2024

HCR (Breaking): Va. Judge Finds Individual Mandate Unconstitutional

UPDATE (1:25pm): Content partner Jason Tolbert has the .pdf of the actual ruling, which you can read here.  More thoughts forthcoming on this, I’m sure.

Judge Henry Hudson today held that the individual mandate in the healthcare reform bill overstepped federal powers and was unconstitutional.

Judge Henry E. Hudson of the Eastern District Court in Richmond, appointed by George W. Bush, ruled that the law’s mandate that all Americans have a minimum level of coverage, or pay a fine if they do not, exceeds federal authority.

Virginia’s Republican Attorney General, Ken Cuccinelli, challenged the law by rejecting the federal government’s view that the mandate is enforceable under the Commerce Clause of the Constitution. The state was seeking an injunction against the entire healthcare act if the mandate was found unconstitutional.

Accordingly, we can probably expect that Hudson will grant the injunction as to the entire bill requested by the state.

This is hardly shocking.  In fact, writing about Judge Hudson and his denial of a motion to dismiss under F.R.C.P. 12(b)(6)  back in August, I wrote:

Besides, I don’t know how one claims victory from clearing a procedural hurdle when the ruling could not have been less surprising.  Not only was Judge Hudson appointed to the federal bench by George W. Bush in 2002 after having served two stints as Commonwealth Attorney for Arlington County and having been a Virginia state court judge, but he also has financial ties to Ken Cuccinelli, the A.G. bringing the suit on behalf of Virginia, and to a number of Republicans who have openly opposed the Affordable Care Act and clamored for its immediate repeal.

While I am not surprised that we are where we are on it today, this case is far from over.  I am curious to read the actual opinion, as I can think of a couple arguments for why it is not unconstitutional (hey, there’s a post idea!).

Also, in case any of you are wondering, no, this does not somehow mean that David Meeks’s proposed bill is any less worthless.  I stand by this completely:

All of which is to say that his proposed law as written would not even come close to surviving a challenge under the Supremacy Clause, assuming that the provision of the health reform bill that requires citizens to have insurance is valid.3 If, however, that provision were found to be violative of Congress’s powers under the U.S. Constitution, then of course Meeks’s bill would be fine, at least from a Supremacy Clause standpoint. At the same time, if the insurance mandate provision was found to be invalid, then there would be no need for Meeks’s proposed law in the first place.

Think about it: David Meeks is proposing a law that, at the moment, is unconstitutional on its face and that could only be constitutional if the very provision he proposed it in response to were removed. This is, quite literally, a worthless bill; either it is constitutionally invalid, or it is completely unnecessary. In no way would it have an impact if it were passed.

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