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Federal judge rules health care reform law unconstitutional

(View complete ruling here)

A federal judge in Florida has ruled the healthcare reform law passed by Congress in March and billed as President Obama’s signature achievement unconstitutional.

In a ruling released Monday, District Judge Roger Vinson sided with 26 states, including South Carolina, saying part of the law that requires all Americans to buy insurance violates the U.S. Constitution’s Commerce Clause, which gives Congress the power to “regulate Commerce… among the several states.”

Because the plaintiffs maintain that an individual’s failure to purchase health insurance is, almost by definition, “inactivity,” the individual mandate goes beyond the Commerce Clause and is unconstitutional.

Vinson said Congress had the power to regulate healthcare, but could not punish those who refused to buy health insurance

Federal attorneys are almost certain to appeal the decision. It will likely end up in the Supreme Court.

South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson, the state’s top prosecutor, praised the ruling in a statement.

If the National Health Care law’s unconstitutional mandate was allowed to stand, individual rights would be trampled, small business would be crippled, and our state would be pushed ever closer toward fiscal ruin.

Although he only ruled the individual mandates violated the Constitution, Vinson said the entire law had to be knocked down.

Proponents of the law criticized the ruling. Families USA, a liberal-leaning health care advocacy group called it “radical judicial activism run amok.”

If this decision were allowed to stand, it would have devastating consequences for America’s families. Children with pre-existing conditions would once again be denied access to health care; insurers could take away health coverage and reinstate lifetime limits on coverage; small businesses would once again be priced out of the market; and seniors would lose their access to no-cost preventive services.

Arguments in the case were heard in December. The National Federation of Independent Business was also named as a plaintiff in the suit.

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