WASHINGTON – A federal judge on Thursday sided with the Obama administration on the sweeping health care reform law, throwing out a challenge to its constitutionality.
Keith Starrett, a George W. Bush- appointed US District Court judge in southern Mississippi, said opponents of the individual mandate had offered "insufficient" basis to challenge the government's ability to regulate health insurance coverage.
The 23-page decision, obtained by the Huffington Post's Sam Stein, read: "The Court finds that the allegations of Plaintiffs' First Amended Petition, as stated therein, are insufficient to show that they have standing to challenge the minimum essential coverage provision of the PPACA [Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act]. Therefore, the Court dismisses Plaintiffs' First Amended Petition without prejudice."
It concluded, "the Court finds that the ten primary Plaintiffs have not plead sufficient facts to establish that they have standing to challenge the Constitutionality of the minimum essential coverage provision of the PPACA."
The lawsuit was filed by Mississippi Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant and 10 other state residents, according to the Hattiesburg American, who argued that the law would grant Congress "unlimited power to regulate, prohibit, or mandate any or all activities in the United States."
Starrett offered them 30 days to amend their complaint.
The ruling is the latest in a heated legal battle that is widely expected to reach the Supreme Court. Including Starrett, five judges have weighed in on challenges to the law: three have said it passes the legal test and two have ruled it unconstitutional.
Florida federal judge Roger Vinson made waves earlier this week when he declared the entire reforms unconstitutional on the basis that the individual mandate was legally unjustifiable and "not severable" from the law.
The White House dismissed it and the other legal ruling against the law as "judicial activism" by Republican-aligned judges.