(Clint Bolick) – U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson of Florida was the second judge to determine that forcing every American to buy government-controlled health insurance violates the U.S Constitution. But he is the first to decide the entire law must fall because the individual insurance mandate can’t be separated from the other provisions.
Ruling Monday in a lawsuit brought by 26 states including Arizona, Judge Vinson found the law is about more than health care—it is “principally about our federalist system, and raises important issues regarding the Constitutional role of the federal government.”
“Never before has Congress required everyone buy a product from a private company (essentially for life) just for being alive and residing in the United States,” the judge declared, adding that it “would be a major departure from existing case law to hold that Congress can regulate inactivity under the Commerce Clause.”
He quoted President Obama, who quipped during his 2008 campaign that “if a mandate was the solution, we can try to solve homelessness by mandating everybody to buy a house.”
Judge Vinson cited the Health Care Freedom Act, which the Goldwater Institute helped to draft and has been adopted by Arizona and five other states, as a reason for those states to have proper standing to challenge the individual mandate.
A federal judge in Virginia also found the insurance mandate to be unconstitutional, while two other courts have upheld it. The cases now go to different courts of appeals, and the U.S. Supreme Court could resolve the issue by next year.
Meanwhile, the Goldwater Institute’s legal challenge, which targets a number of vulnerabilities in the law, is proceeding in federal district court in Phoenix.
But we already can chalk one up for liberty in this titanic struggle pitting federal regulation versus state autonomy and individual freedom.
(Clint Bolick is director of the Goldwater Institute’s Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation)