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January 31, 2011

BREAKING: Federal Judge Throws Out ObamaCare

flaming_skull2a.gif

BANG. (link updated)

"Because the individual mandate is unconstitutional and not severable, the entire Act must be declared void"

This is the 20 something state lawsuit that was argued in the Northern District of Florida federal court.

As I noted on Twitter...it's hard to get too excited about this because nothing matters in the federal courts until Anthony Kennedy flips his magic coin but tossing out the whole law is a big, big boost politically for advocates of repeal.
Stand by for updates.

Via Gabriel...here's the PDF of the decision.

From the decision:

It would be a radical departure from existing case law to hold that Congress can regulate inactivity under the Commerce Clause. If it has the power to compel an otherwise passive individual into a commercial transaction with a third party merely by asserting --- as was done in the Act --- that compelling the actual transaction is itself “commercial and economic in nature, and substantially affects interstate commerce” [see Act § 1501(a)(1)], it is not hyperbolizing to suggest that Congress could do almost anything it wanted. It is difficult to imagine that a nation which began, at least in part, as the result of opposition to a British mandate giving the East India Company a monopoly and imposing a nominal tax on all tea sold in America would have set out to create a government with the power to force people to buy tea in the first place.

...

In the final analysis, this Act has been analogized to a finely crafted watch, and that seems to fit. It has approximately 450 separate pieces, but one essential piece (the individual mandate) is defective and must be removed. It cannot function as originally designed. There are simply too many moving parts in the Act and too many provisions dependent (directly and indirectly) on the individual mandate and other health insurance provisions --- which, as noted, were the chief engines that drove the entire legislative effort --- for me to try and dissect out the proper from the improper, and the able-to-stand-alone from the unable-to-stand-alone. Such a quasi-legislative undertaking would be particularly inappropriate in light of the fact that any statute that might conceivably be left over after this analysis is complete would plainly not serve Congress’ main purpose and primary objective in passing the Act. The statute is, after all, called “The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,” not “The Abstinence Education and Bone Marrow Density Testing Act.” The Act, like a defectively designed watch, needs to be redesigned and reconstructed by the watchmaker.


Update [ace]: There was a second part of this challenge, largely put together by Randy Barnett of the Volokh Conspiracy, I think.

That challenge argued that ObamaCare violates the spending clause by imposing an involuntary expenditure on the part of the states, in violation of their sovereignty. While Medicare is supposedly a voluntary program, in fact taxes are collected from states' citizens involuntarily, so the "choice" a state has is either to comply with the federal law or give up all those billions taken from their taxpayers.

That, Barnett's objection states, makes a fiction of the claim that the program is "voluntary" as we typically use the word.

But this judge, unfortunately, finds against that claim. He notes that this is not really an issue ripe for summary judgment (which must be rendered on the law alone, not on any facts which must be discovered at trial), but also cites a welter of opinions calling Medicare "voluntary" and says the plaintiff's argument is "weak."

He then grants the defendants (the feds, Obama) summary judgment on that issue, deciding that the law is clear, Medicare is supposedly "voluntary" even though it's clearly not.

Question: What's hotter than this decision?

Answer: A video of Megyn Kelly reading this decision on the air.

Correction: Drew tells me the second argument is about Medicaid expansion, not Medicare expansion, as I wrote.

Actually I didn't even write that. I invented some new program called like "Meidcare."

Judge Cites... The Boston Tea Party for Purposes of Analogy: Dave Wiegel is making hay over this:

It would be a radical departure from existing case law to hold that Congress can regulate inactivity under the Commerce Clause. If it has the power to compel an otherwise passive individual into a commercial transaction with a third party merely by asserting --- as was done in the Act --- that compelling the actual transaction is itself “commercial and economic in nature, and substantially affects interstate commerce” [see Act § 1501(a)(1)], it is not hyperbolizing to suggest that Congress could do almost anything it wanted. It is difficult to imagine that a nation which began, at least in part, as the result of opposition to a British mandate giving the East India Company a monopoly and imposing a nominal tax on all tea sold in America would have set out to create a government with the power to force people to buy tea in the first place. If Congress can penalize a passive individual for failing to engage in commerce, the enumeration of powers in the Constitution would have been in vain for it would be “difficult to perceive any limitation on federal power” [Lopez, supra, 514 U.S. at 564], and we would have a Constitution in name only. Surely this is not what the Founding Fathers could have intended. See id. at 592

Wiegel cracks "subtle!" as if there's something wrong with citing an event crucial to our nation's definition of freedom, simply because some people with political might today also noticed that that even was crucial to our nation's defintion of freedom.

Does Wiegel think there's anything wrong with citing liberal-leaning analogies in liberal opinions?


digg this
posted by DrewM. at 02:59 PM

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