“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. If Congress can penalize a passive individual for failing to engage in commerce, the enumeration of powers in the Constitution would have been in vain for it would be ‘difficult to perceive any limitation on federal power’ and we would have a Constitution in name only.”

So wrote Judge Roger Vinson of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Florida yesterday while becoming the second federal judge to strike down Obamacare’s individual mandate. Like Judge Henry Hudson of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Judge Vinson also found that Section 1501 of the act, which forces all Americans to buy government-approved health insurance policies, “falls outside the boundary of Congress’ Commerce Clause authority and cannot be reconciled with a limited government of enumerated powers.” But then Judge Vinson went even further, concluding that “the individual mandate and the remaining provisions are all inextricably bound together in purpose and must stand or fall as a single unit.” Accordingly, Vinson concluded: “Because the individual mandate is unconstitutional and not severable, the entire Act must be declared void.”
In reaching the decision to strike down the entirety of Obamacare, Judge Vinson used the Obama Administration’s own words against them, noting that their own filings with the court claimed that the law’s other provisions “cannot be severed from the [individual mandate].” In addition, Judge Vinson notes that Congress could have easily included a severability clause in the legislation if they wanted to, that an earlier version of Obamacare did indeed have such a clause, but Congress intentionally removed the severability clause in the final bill. Judge Vinson wrote that the Obama Administration has “asserted again and again that the individual mandate is absolutely ‘necessary’ and ‘essential’ for the Act to operate as it was intended by Congress. I accept that it is.”

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