A federal judge's ruling Monday that the entire health care reform law is unconstitutional is the "most significant step yet" toward ending the controversial legislation, said a legal group that is involved in the Florida case.
"The sweeping decision represents the most significant step yet on the legal path toward putting an end to ObamaCare," said Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the ACLJ, regarding Vinson's decision. "The fact is that forcing Americans to purchase health care not only undermines individual liberty, but violates the Commerce Clause of the Constitution, and as this court correctly determined, renders the entire law void."
He added, "We're very encouraged by this ruling and will continue to represent members of Congress in preparing an amicus brief supporting Florida's challenge of ObamaCare - at the next level - at the appellate court."
The ACLJ had filed an amicus brief representing 63 members of Congress, including House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, who supported the Florida challenge.
Federal Judge Roger Vinson in Florida ruled Monday that the entire health care law is unconstitutional He goes a step further than that of a Virginia federal judge ] because he struck down the whole law as unconstitutional. A federal judge in Virginia also ruled that requiring most Americans to purchase health insurance is not constitutional, but the Virginia judge only ruled on that individual mandate and not on the entire law.
Vinson in his 78-page ruling wrote: "This is obviously a very difficult task. Regardless of how laudable its attempts may have been to accomplish these goals in passing the Act, Congress must operate within the bounds established by the Constitution,"
Since the health care legislation became law last year, 26 states have filed cases against it. Some courts upheld the health care overhaul, others threw the case out, and Virginia and Florida ruled part of or all the law unconstitutional. There are still 12 more states with pending legislation against ObamaCare, including: Idaho, Indiana, Maine, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, and Wyoming.
"Congress does not have unlimited authority to regulate private actions. If the Constitution does not give Congress the power to act, then Congress cannot act," argued Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel in a statement Monday. "No one wants the federal government or a pencil-pushing bureaucrat in Washington policing private medical decisions. No one wants IRS agents to become the health insurance police."
"The threat to liberty posed by the healthcare bill goes beyond healthcare," he said.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) also applauded the Florida court's ruling. Boehner criticized the health care law as not only unconstitutional but unaffordable and bad for small businesses.
On Jan. 20, Boehner led the Republican-controlled House in voting overwhelmingly for the repeal of the health care legislation. The repeal passed by a vote of 245 to 189.
"Today's ruling makes clear that as long as the mandate is in place, the entire law rests on an unconstitutional foundation. If the foundation crumbles, the whole law falls," commented Ken Klukowski, special counsel at Family Research Council.
Klukowski had filed an amicus brief focused on the individual mandate that was quoted in Judge Vinson's ruling.
"No part of the Constitution empowers the federal government to command American citizens to spend their own personal money to purchase health insurance," said Klukowski, who also serves as director of FRC's Center for Religious Liberty.
"We urge the Senate to follow the lead of the House of Representatives and move to repeal this unconstitutional law in its entirely, not merely to tinker with various provisions."
Vinson's ruling is expected to reach the U.S. Supreme Court. The ruling is not expected to have any immediate effect on the heath care law.