By Jon H. Harsch

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

Washington, Dec. 13 – In a blow to the Obama administration's signature heath-care law, federal District Court Judge Henry Hudson ruled Monday in Virginia that the law's mandate requiring individuals to either purchase health insurance or pay a fine is unconstitutional. The ruling, however, has no immediate effect on the law since Hudson explained that other parts of the law do not depend on the purchase mandate and that the mandate itself would not take effect until 2014.

Acting in a case bought against the law by Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, Hudson found that “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.”

In response to the ruling, Justice Department spokesperson Tracy Schmaler commented that “We are disappointed in today's ruling but continue to believe, as other federal courts in Virginia and Michigan have found, that the Affordable Care Act is constitutional. There is clear and well-established legal precedent that Congress acted within its constitutional authority in passing this law, and we are confident that we will ultimately prevail.”

The expectation is that the Virginia ruling and rulings pending in other states all will appealed, with the final decision on the health-care law going to the U.S. Supreme Court.

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