The lawsuit in Florida against ObamaCare's individual mandate, joined by 26 states, has resulted in a victory for the states. Federal judge Roger Vinson has issued a decision declaring the entire act "void" because of the lack of a severability clause -- the poorly drafted legislation's "fatal flaw." From IBD's Capital Hill blog:
In a challenge by 26 states, Vinson ruled that "because the individual mandate is unconstitutional and not severable, the entire Act must be declared void." Vinson did not issue an injunction to block ObamaCare.
Obviously, the case will be appealed to the Supreme Court, and this decision helps make that review more certain.Update:
Judge Vinson found that there was no need for an injunction, since the declaratory judgment that the entire law was invalid was sufficient. In effect, there is nothing left to enjoin, since no part of the law survived. By contrast, in the ruling in Virginia last year invalidating the mandate, the Judge severed the mandate from the rest of the law (but denied an injunction preventing the rest of the law from taking effect).
In this sense, this decision is far more sweeping than the Virginia case, and presents a greater problem for the Obama administration which arguably does not have authority to implement any aspect of Obamacare.
Jacobson notes that the decision text includes:
...I must reluctantly conclude that Congress exceeded the bounds of its authority in passing the Act with the individual mandate. That is not to say, of course, that Congress is without power to address the problems and inequities in our health care system. The health care market is more than one sixth of the national economy, and without doubt Congress has the power to reform and regulate this market. That has not been disputed in this case. The principal dispute has been about how Congress chose to exercise that power here.
Because the individual mandate is unconstitutional and not severable, the entire Act must be declared void.
Clarice Feldman highlights this text from the decision:
"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. "
Jennifer Rubin, among others, points out that effectively the judge has enjoined further implementation of ObamaCare:
In determining that the individual mandate could not be severed from the rest of the law, the judge found:
If Congress intends to implement health care reform --- and there would appear to be widespread agreement across the political spectrum that reform is needed --- it should do a comprehensive examination of the Act and make a legislative determination as to which of its hundreds of provisions and sections will work as intended without the individual mandate, and which will not. It is Congress that should consider and decide these quintessentially legislative questions, and not the courts.
I read the section on "Injunction" and could scarely believe my eyes. Was the judge ordering the government not to enforce ObamaCare in all 26 states? Oh, yes, indeed.
Robert Alt of the Heritage Institute e-mailed me, "The judge noted that declaratory relief is the functional equivalent of an injunction, and applied the long-standing presumption 'that officials of the Executive Branch will adhere to the law as declared by the court.' So in the case, the judge asserted that the declaratory relief should bind the parties. If the Obama administration wishes to impose the requirements of Obamacare upon the states, it will need to seek a stay of the opinion either from the judge, or from the 11th Circuit."