Judge Henry Hudson of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia ruled today that the federal government does not have constitutional authority to require citizens to purchase health insurance. This ruling invalidates the ‘individual mandate,’ a core provision of President Barack Obama’s (D) landmark Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which was signed into law in March of this year.
Hudson ruled, in part, that an “individual’s personal decision to purchase—or decline purchase—[of] health insurance from a private provider is beyond the historical reach of the U.S. Constitution. No specifically constitutional authority exists to mandate the purchase of health insurance.”
In this case, ‘Virginia v. Sebelius’ (3:10-cv-00188), the Commonwealth of Virginia—represented by state Attorney General Ken Cuccinnelli—argues that the individual mandate oversteps constitutional limits on the federal government’s authority. This is just one among many challenges to the health care reform act, including one suit being brought by Florida and nineteen other states against newly-mandated Medicare expansions.
The Obama administration is expected to appeal the ruling, and it is very likely that the constitutionality of the health care reform act’s most controversial provisions will not be fully settled until they are ruled upon by the U.S. Supreme Court.