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Obama Health Care Bill Ruled Unconstitutional: What Does It Mean?

A central provision of the Obama Administration's overhaul of health care has been ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge in Virginia.


A central provision of the Obama Administration's overhaul of health care has been ruled unconstitutional by a federal district judge in Virginia, reports The New York Times. It's the first court in the nation to rule against the bill—two previous decisions in suits against the bill upheld it—but it probably won't be the last. From The Times:

In a 42-page opinion issued in Richmond, Va., Judge [Henry E.] Hudson wrote that the law’s central requirement that most Americans obtain health insurance exceeds the regulatory authority granted to Congress under the Commerce Clause of the Constitution. The insurance mandate is central to the law’s mission of covering more than 30 million uninsured because insurers argue that only by requiring healthy people to have policies can they afford to treat those with expensive chronic conditions. ... A major question, therefore, has been whether the income tax penalties levied against those who do not obtain health insurance are designed to regulate “activity” or, as Virginia’s solicitor general, E. Duncan Getchell Jr., has argued, “inactivity” that is beyond Congress’ reach.


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The dilemma of whether the government has the right to require individuals to purchase a commercial product (insurance) has been, and will likely continue to be, a major talking point this week.

For now, the ruling itself is not expected to slow down the roll-out of the bill, but it will certainly add fuel to the fire being lit by critics.

Photo by Samantha Appleton from Barack Obama's Weekly Address

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