Ah, history has a way of repeating itself, yes? As we saw in its endless lobbying and eventual vote tally earlier this year, the sweeping health care overhaul has boiled down to a good, old-fashioned political fight with both Republicans and Democrats drawing an unwavering line in the sand.
The first shot across the bow to hit its target occurred yesterday when Henry E. Hudson, a Republican judicial appointee, ruled a crucial piece of the legislation requiring individuals to purchase health insurance is unconstitutional. The lawsuit, which was filed by Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, also a Republican, marks the first judge to rule against any part of the sweeping health care legislation and advances the case one step closer to a Supreme Court hearing.
In his ruling, Hudson cited the Commerce Clause, finding the legislation went beyond the regulatory authority granted under the clause.
“An individual’s personal decision to purchase–or decline to purchase–health insurance from a private provider is beyond the historical reach of the Commerce Clause,” Hudson says.
However, he rejected Cuccinelli’s request to strike down the act in its entirety or block its implementation while the case is heard under appeal, meaning the ruling will have no immediate effect. Despite the setback, which follows two previous rulings in favor of the legislation by Democratic appointees, the White House is predicting victory in the Supreme Court showdown, which is likely at least a year off.
Justice Department spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler admitted to being disappointed in the ruling but added she and her colleagues in the department “continue to believe–as other federal courts in Virginia and Michigan have found–that the Affordable Care Act is constitutional. We are confident that we will ultimately prevail.”
Nonetheless, the ruling gives GOP opponents of the law new ammunition in their fight to stop health care reform. President Obama has promised to veto any repeal legislation while Republicans’ latest tactic may involve attempting to starve the legislation of funding. And we wonder why so much time and money is spent doing so little in Washington. Sheesh.