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"...the entire act must be declared void."
A federal judge in Florida has ruled that the president's health care overhaul, "Obamacare," is unconstitutional.
The judge based his ruling on the law's mandate that citizens must purchase health care, a requirement he said violates the Constitution. The ruling affects the 26 states who had joined together to file a case against the law, yet still has implications for the entire country.
U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson ruled Congress overstepped its bounds by instituting the individual mandate, but also said the entire law was unconstitutional since the individual mandate is not "severable," Fox News reports. Vinson did not go as far as to issue an injunction blocking the law from being implemented.
"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," Vinson wrote in the 78-page ruling.
"Because the individual mandate is unconstitutional and not severable, the entire act must be declared void," he added.
"The individual mandate applies across the board. People have no choice and there is no way to avoid it. Those who fall under the individual mandate either comply with it, or they are penalized. It is not based on an activity that they make the choice to undertake. Rather, it is based solely on citizenship and on being alive," he wrote.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) responded on Monday via a written statement.
"Today's decision affirms the view, held by most of the states and a majority of the American people, that the federal government should not be in the business of forcing you to buy health insurance and punishing you if you don't," he said.
Paul Howard, director of the Center for Medical Progress at the Manhattan Institute, tells The Blaze the Democrats might actually be to blame for the judge's conclusion.
"Ironically, the law may become a victim of Democrats rush to pass it, since legislators neglected to include a severability clause," he wrote in an e-mail. "As a result, Judge Vinson was forced to invalidate the entire statute."
Last month, a federal judge in Virginia also ruled that the individual insurance mandate of the Obamacare was unconstitutional. That judge, however, did not go as far as to say the entire law was unconstitutional.
The ruling is just one more example of why the law is unpopular, and why it faces an uphill battle before being fully implemented in 2014. For example, just last week the House of Representatives repealed the law. Still, despite the ruling in Virginia and the House's actions, the president doubled-down on his support of the bill last week, defiantly brushing aside those who question the overhaul.
“You may have heard once or twice this is a job-crushing, granny-threatening, budget-busting monstrosity,” Obama said. “That just doesn’t match up to the reality.”
“I can report that Granny is safe,” he quipped.
The Florida case is likely to go to the U.S. Supreme Court, especially considering this is the fourth federal ruling on the president's health care overhaul. Besides the Virginia decision, two other federal judges have ruled in favor of the insurance mandate.
This is a breaking story. Updates will be added. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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