A federal judge in Florida on Monday ruled that the entire health care reform law is unconstitutional.
Although a Virginia judge last year struck down parts of the law, Judge Roger Vinson is the first to rule that the entire overhaul is unconstitutional. Congress cannot require all Americans to purchase insurance, said Vinson.
"Because the individual mandate is unconstitutional and not severable, the entire Act must be declared void. This has been a difficult decision to reach, and I am aware that it will have indeterminable implications," Vinson wrote in his ruling.
Florida and 25 other states have legally challenged the health reform law, mostly concerning the mandate that requires nearly everyone to buy insurance.
The ruling comes just days after the secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius held a conference call with faith leaders to gain religious support for the 2010 reform bill.
"Among our most effective and determined partners are faith and community leaders. No one knows the needs of their communities better than ministers, rabbis, imams and other faith and community partners," Sebelius had said on Thursday. "They are the ones who families turn to when they need assistance and support, and they do so much day in and day out to link their members to services that are available.
"Often faith and community leaders have seen the consequences of a health care system that has failed way too many Americans. So as we build a stronger, more prosperous country we need to be able to count on their leadership."
Sebelius had asked faith leaders to highlight the successes of the Affordable Care Act to their communities.
Florida megachurch pastor Joel C. Hunter of Northland, A Church Distributed was on the conference call. He spoke about his late granddaughter who died last year of brain cancer to emphasize how the reform bill allows Americans to receive coverage despite having pre-existing conditions.
"Being a pastor is like being a parent, you are only doing [as well as] the most vulnerable family member," he shared.
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.