Federal Judge Rules Against Health Reform

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A federal judge has ruled against the Democrats’ health care law, agreeing with Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s contention that the law’s requirement that Americans purchase health insurance (the so-called “individual mandate”) is unconstitutional.

It’s the first court ruling against Obama’s sweeping health reform law. In his ruling, Henry Hudson, a George W. Bush-appointed district judge, said the individual mandate went beyond the federal government’s authority to regulate interstate commerce under the Constitution. Compelling people to enter a commercial market, Hudson wrote, was tantamount to “invit[ing] unbridled exercise of federal police powers.” He continued: “At its core, this dispute is not simply about regulating the business of insurance—or crafting a scheme of universal health insurance coverage—it’s about an individual’s right to choose to participate.” But the judge also denied Virginia’s request to prevent the entire law from being implemented. Instead, he limited the scope of his ruling to the mandate.

Though the ruling is a significant setback for health reform, it’s only the latest legal development: two other federal courts have ruled in favor of the law, and another ruling is expected this Thursday. All these rulings are precursors to a highly anticipated Supreme Court battle. That fight could determine not only the fate of health reform, but also the political futures of the law’s major supporters and detractors.

For the moment, at least, it’s an unequivocal victory for Ken Cuccinelli, the conservative crusader and grassroots hero who called the challenge to health-care reform “a major priority for the Tea Party in Virginia.”

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Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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