A federal judge in Florida ruled Monday that key provisions of President Barack Obama’s health care reform law were unconstitutional, and that the entire law must be voided.
US District Judge Roger Vinson in Pensacola, Florida, a Reagan appointee, agreed with the 26 states that brought the lawsuit, and said Congress cannot penalize individuals that do not buy insurance by 2014.
“Because the individual mandate is unconstitutional and not severable, the entire Act must be declared void,” he declared in the ruling.
On the same day that Obama signed the law, then-Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum filed the lawsuit on behalf on 13 states. Since then, 13 more have joined the litigation.
The federal government was expected to appeal the ruling to the US Court of Appeals in Atlanta.
The Obama administration was also appealing the similar ruling by a Reagan-appointed federal judge in Virginia.
The Atlantic‘s Andrew Cohen cautioned both supporters and opponents of the law not to overreact to the judge’s decision.
“Both sides will thus likely overreact to Judge Vinson’s ruling — much as both sides overreacted to last month’s similar ruling by US District Judge Henry Hudson in Virginia,” he wrote. “Judge Vinson could issue a virtual Tea Party manifesto Monday — and he might — but it wouldn’t ultimately make a bit of difference in your life or mine if it doesn’t earn the support of at least five Supreme Court justices. ”