Obamacare struck down more completely

Once again, a federal judge has ruled that the Health Care Reform law is unconstitutional.  But this time the judge has struck down the whole bill.   From conservative attorney Ken Klukowski:

The federal court in the massive 26-state challenge to ObamaCare on Monday held that the health care law’s individual mandate is unconstitutional. And, even more importantly, the judge accepted the argument in my court brief that the mandate cannot be separated from the rest of this 2,700-page legislative monstrosity, and struck down the entire law.

Roger Vinson, of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida, the judge presiding over this case, did so because of a single word: Severability.

A single law usually contains many different provisions. Lawmakers know that if someone challenges the constitutionality of a statute, they often challenge only one or two provisions of it. So lawmakers usually try to make sure at least part of their law will survive.

The process of striking down only part of a law is called “severability.” Therefore Congress almost always inserts a severability clause, saying that if part of the law is struck down, the remaining provisions continue in full force and effect.

Congress did not insert a severability clause in ObamaCare. So even though only a couple provisions of the health care law are being challenged in the Florida case—those two provisions being the individual mandate aka the requirement that every American has to buy insurance and also the sweeping expansion of Medicaid—the issue arises that if a court strikes down either of those provisions, it might strike down the entire statute.

via FoxNews.com – ObamaCare Unconstitutional — Why Judge Vinson’s Ruling Is So Important.

It will take the Supreme Court to end the litigation and make a definitive ruling.   But isn’t this an example of the carelessness with which this law was written, leaving out a severability clause?.

House votes to repeal Obamacare

The House of Representatives has repealed Obamacare.  But don’t get too excited either way.  The bill will have to be also passed by the Democratic-held Senate and survive a veto by the President.  But still. . .

Swiftly honoring a campaign pledge, newly empowered Republicans pushed legislation to repeal the nation’s year-old health care overhaul through the House Wednesday night, brushing aside implacable opposition in the Senate and a veto threat from President Barack Obama.

The 245-189 vote was largely along party lines, and cleared the way for the second phase of the “repeal and replace” promise that victorious Republicans made to the voters last fall. GOP officials said that in the coming months, congressional committees will propose changes to the existing legislation, calling for elimination of a requirement for individuals to purchase coverage, for example, and recommending curbs on medical malpractice lawsuits.

Republicans also intend to try to reverse many of the changes Democrats made to Medicare Advantage, the private alternative to the traditional government-run health care program for seniors.

Like the repeal bill itself, these other measures will require Senate approval and a presidential signature to take effect, and the prospect is for months of maneuvering on the issue.

via The Associated Press: House Votes to repeal Obama’s health care law.

Assuming the rejection of the overall bill won’t stand up, Republicans are reportedly next planning a “death by a thousand cuts” approach, targeting provisions and funding needs one at a time. The first is said to be the provisions that allow for abortion.

Do you think this represents  a good strategy for Republicans? Some say that Republicans should let the bill get enacted, and then when it turns into a horrible, expensive, complicated mess, as Republicans expect, they can target it and present a Republican approach as an alternative. Otherwise, if Republicans only cripple the program, Democrats can can blame Republicans for it not working. What do you think?

Court strikes down Obamacare

A federal judge ruled that the government cannot compel citizens to buy a particular product, striking down the key feature of the health care reform bill, which forces everyone to buy insurance.

The Obama administration’s requirement that most citizens maintain minimum health coverage as part of a broad overhaul of the industry is unconstitutional, a federal judge ruled, striking down the linchpin of the plan.

U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson in Richmond, Virginia, today said that the requirement in President Barack Obama’s health-care legislation goes beyond Congress’s powers to regulate interstate commerce. While severing the coverage mandate, which is set to become effective in 2014, Hudson didn’t address other provisions such as expanding Medicaid.

“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,” wrote Hudson, who was appointed by President George W. Bush in 2002.

The ruling is the government’s first loss in a series of challenges to the law mounted in federal courts in Virginia, Michigan and Florida, where 20 states have joined an effort to have the statute thrown out.

Constitutional scholars said unless Congress changes the law, its fate on appeal will probably be determined by the U.S. Supreme Court.

via U.S. Health-Care Law Requirement Thrown Out by Judge Update4 – Bloomberg.

You may recall that we talked about this on this blog, the difficulty of  the health care reform bill passing constitutional muster.  As someone said, it may have been in the national interest to preserve the U.S. auto industry, but that doesn’t mean the government has the authority to make every American buy a Chevy.

Is the health care law unconstitutional?

An editorial in the Washington Post, no less, which supported the health care reform bill, admits that the lawsuits seeking to strike down the new law may have a case:

Just minutes after Tuesday’s signing ceremony, the constitutionality of the health insurance reform law came under fire. A coalition of attorneys general from 13 states filed suit in a northern Florida federal court; Virginia lodged a separate complaint, and other states may follow.

These challenges are not frivolous. The states argue that the individual mandate — forcing individuals to purchase health insurance — stretches and distorts Congress's constitutional power “to regulate Commerce . . . among the several states.” A person who declines to buy insurance is not engaged in interstate commerce and should therefore lie beyond the reach of Congress, they say.

This contrasts, in two ways, with a consumer who is forced to buy car insurance. First, states have power to regulate activities within their borders that the Constitution does not grant the federal government. Second, a consumer must choose to enter the car market; only then does a state place a condition on that choice by requiring insurance. If the courts acknowledge the legitimacy of the individual mandate, the states argue, the federal government’s power to order purchases of other products or services — or any number of other directives — would be unlimited.

via States argue the feds can’t force purchase of health insurance – washingtonpost.com.

To use an example I’ve heard, if the federal government can compel people to purchase health insurance, it should also be able to decide that it would be beneficial to the national economy to require everyone to buy a GM automobile.

Abstinence funding

The health care reform bill consisted of 1,990 pages.  Congressmen could hardly have read what they were voting for.  Who knows what all is in there?  There may be all kinds of surprises.  For example, to the dismay of many liberals, funding for abstinence education–which Democrats thought they had killed–was stuck into the bill, to the tune of $250 million:

A little-noticed provision of the health legislation has rescued federal support for a controversial form of sex education: teaching youths to remain virgins until marriage.

The bill restores $250 million over five years for states to sponsor programs aimed at preventing pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases by focusing exclusively on encouraging children and adolescents to avoid sex. The funding provides at least a partial reprieve for the approach, which faced losing all federal support under President Obama’s first two budgets.

via Health bill restores $250 million in abstinence-education funds – washingtonpost.com.

Isn’t it something that teaching children to wait until they get married to have sex is now “controversial”?

To stupak

Bart Stupak, the pro-life Democratic congressman from Michigan, went from a hero to a goat in a single moment.  With his blocking of the health care reform bill unless it included anti-abortion provisions, pro-lifers were thinking they too might be able to become Democrats after all.  But then came his press conference in which he agreed to accept the bill on the basis of a presidential executive order saying tax money will not be used to pay for abortions, something that can’t be enforced in the courts, can be changed at will, and doesn’t matter anyway since segregating money means as little as  putting it in your right pocket rather than your left.  So now BOTH pro-lifers AND pro-abortioners are mad at him.  The whole performance inspired Kathleen Parker, who is no right-winger, to coin a new word:


Etymology: Eponym for Rep. Bart Stupak.

Function: verb

1: In a legislative process, to obstruct passage of a proposed law on the basis of a moral principle (i.e., protecting the unborn), accumulating power in the process, then at a key moment surrendering in exchange for a fig leaf, the size of which varies according to the degree of emasculation of said legislator and/or as a reflection of just how stupid people are presumed to be. (Slang: backstabber.)

Poor Bart Stupak. The man tried to be a hero for the unborn, and then, when all the power of the moment was in his frail human hands, he dropped the baby. He genuflected when he should have dug in his heels and gave it up for a meaningless executive order.

Now, in the wake of his decision to vote for a health-care bill that expands public funding for abortion, he is vilified and will forever be remembered as the guy who Stupaked health-care reform and the pro-life movement. . . .

Stupak’s clumsy fall from grace is a lesson in human frailty. In a matter of hours, he went from representing the majority of Americans who don’t want public money spent on abortion to leading the army on the other side.

Something must have gone bump in the night.

Whatever it was, demonizing Stupak seems excessive and redundant given punishments to come. Already he has lost a speaking invitation to the Illinois Catholic Prayer Breakfast next month. His political future, otherwise, may have been foretold by a late-night anecdote.

After the Sunday vote, a group of Democrats, including Stupak, gathered in a pub to celebrate. In a biblical moment, New York Rep. Anthony Weiner was spotted planting a big kiss on Stupak’s cheek.

To a Catholic man well versed in the Gospel, this is not a comforting gesture.

via Kathleen Parker – Stupak’s fall from pro-life grace – washingtonpost.com.

Use the verb “stupak” in a sentence to bring up other examples of people standing up for principle only to cave when it mattered most.