Federal Judge Robert Vinson, ruling on a multi-state challenge to Obamacare, has declared not just the individual health insurance mandate unconstitutional, but the entire law.
The heart of Judge Vinson's ruling says that neither the Commerce Clause nor the Necessary and Proper Clause give authority to the government to compel Americans to buy health insurance when they don't want to. Vinson writes:
It is difficult to imagine that a nation which began, at least in part, as the result of opposition to a British mandate giving the East India Company a monopoly and imposing a nominal tax on all tea sold in America would have set out to create a government with the power to force people to buy tea in the first place.
Never before in the history of the country has the federal government tried to mandate commercial activity. Per Vinson:
In previous cases, "the individuals being regulated . . . had the choice to discontinue that activity and avoid penalty. . . . Here, people have no choice but to buy insurance or be penalized."
The Judge rejected the federal government's claim that the supposed "uniqueness" of the health care market is enough to render constitutional limits null and void. Also rejected was the idea that a citizen's decision not to buy a product can somehow be redefined as an "activity" which can be regulated.
Judge Vinson also shot down the government's foundation of authority to require the individual mandate, the "Necessary and Proper Clause", observing that such an interpretation "would eviscerate the bedrock enumerated powers principle upon which the Constitution rests."
The final victory for the American people and the rule of law (at least in this round) had to do with severability: Since the individual mandate is unconstitutional, Judge Vinson determined that the whole statute could not be severed and must be struck down with it. In other words, the individual mandate is so central to the legislation that it could not be made to work without it.
Perhaps sweetest of all, Vinson cited Obama's own words in the ruling. While campaigning against Hillary Clinton for the Presidential nomination in 2008, Candidate Obama described, crisply and clearly, why insurance mandates can never be made to work in solving the so-called health care crisis.
Candidate Barack Obama argues against health insurance mandates in 2008.