On the heels of heated debate surrounding Obama’s tax cut deal, the president now faces additional scrutiny, this time of his massive healthcare reform bill.
According to the Washington Post:
U.S. District Court Judge Henry E. Hudson found that Congress could not order individuals to buy health insurance.
In a 42-page opinion, Hudson said the provision of the law that requires most individuals to get insurance or pay a fine by 2014 is an unprecedented expansion of federal power that cannot be supported by Congress’s power to regulate interstate trade.
“Neither the Supreme Court nor any federal circuit court of appeals has extended Commerce Clause powers to compel an individual to involuntarily enter the stream of commerce by purchasing a commodity in the private market,” he wrote. “In doing so, enactment of the [individual mandate] exceeds the Commerce Clause powers vested in Congress under Article I [of the Constitution.]
Hudson is the first judge to rule that the individual mandate is unconstitutional. He said, however, that portions of the law that do not rest on the requirement that individuals obtain insurance are legal and can proceed. Hudson indicated there was no need for him to enjoin the law and halt its implementation, since the mandate does not go into effect until 2014.
The case Hudson decided was one of 25 cases being heard in federal courts nationwide, including in Michigan and Florida. At a time when Obama is already under fire, this rule adds an unwanted thorn in the president’s side, particularly considering that it will only fuel attempts by a Republican-led 112th Congress to pass legislation to repeal the healthcare act entirely.
Final resolution of the “individual mandate” issue will be determined by the U.S. Supreme Court.