A second federal judge has ruled that President Barack Obama’s health care reform law, which subsidizes abortions, is unconstitutional.
U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson, a Reagan appointee, ruled that the law violates the Constitution by requiring Americans to purchase health insurance or face a penalty, a provision that is set to begin in 2014.
“I must reluctantly conclude that Congress exceeded the bounds of its authority in passing the Act with the individual mandate,” Vinson writes in his decision. “That is not to say, of course, that Congress is without power to address the problems and inequities in our health care system.”
Vison declares the entire law to be “void” because “the individual mandate is unconstitutional and not severable” from the law, and expresses regret for what he believes to be a necessary decision.
“This has been a difficult decision to reach, and I am aware that it will have indeterminable implications,” Vison writes. “At a time when there is virtually unanimous agreement that health care reform is needed in this country, it is hard to invalidate and strike down a statute titled ‘The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.’”
However, he added, “Regardless of how laudable its attempts may have been to accomplish these goals in passing the Act, Congress must operate within the bounds established by the Constitution.”
The decision was reached in response to a lawsuit against the law, also known as “Obamacare,” filed by the state of Florida, which has been joined by 25 other states.
Pro-lifers hailed the ruling as a victory for the right to life in the United States.
“Today’s historic ruling that Obamacare is unconstitutional comes as no surprise to those who have opposed the pro-abortion law from its inception. While all Americans are in need of quality and affordable health care, that need should not be valued over the lives of innocent preborn Americans,” said Kristan Hawkins, Executive Director of Students for Life and co-founder of the Stop the Abortion Mandate Coalition (STAM).
“Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was the most pro-abortion piece of legislation in American history, and it unconstitutionally mandated that all Americans purchase health care. Americans deserve more than this pro-abortion piece of legislation, and the Judge has upheld the law for Americans, and most especially the preborn,” she added.
The decision is the second federal court ruling against the act. In December, Federal Judge Henry Hudson of the Eastern District Court in Richmond Viginia, ruled that the act is in violation of the Commerce Clause. Two other judges, however, have rejected lawsuits against the act. Supporters say they expect it to be upheld as constitutional on appeal.
The Obama administration has indicated that they will appeal the decision. “We strongly disagree with the court’s ruling today and continue to believe – as other federal courts have found – that the Affordable Care Act is constitutional,” Justice Department spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler said.
The issue is expected eventually to end up before the U.S. Supreme Court.
Matthew Cullinan Hoffman