BREAKING: Virginia judge rules health care mandate unconstitutional
December 13th, 2010
12:06 PM ET
11 years ago

BREAKING: Virginia judge rules health care mandate unconstitutional

(CNN) - A Virginia federal judge on Monday found a key part of President Barack Obama's sweeping health care reform law unconstitutional - setting the stage for a protracted legal struggle likely to wind up in the Supreme Court.

U.S. District Court Judge Henry Hudson struck down the "individual mandate" requiring most Americans to purchase health insurance by 2014. The Justice Department is expected to challenge the judge's findings in a federal appeals court.

The case is Virginia v. Sebelius. See the ruling here.

Filed under: Health care • President Obama • Virginia
soundoff (302 Responses)
  1. Gavin

    Ironically, the "Mandate" is the part the insurance lobbyists drilled the administration for. They would only support the bill if this part was in. In the Virginia case, they only want this part taken out, not the entire repeal of the law thus If it is ruled unconstitutional, it can be taken out but the remainder of the bill stands including the pre-existing condition regulations. I bet the republicans will get an earful on this ruling not the Obama administration.

    December 13, 2010 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  2. Gary

    If requiring people to have healthcare is unconstitutional then requiring people to have auto insurance is unconstitutional and setting up roadblocks to catch drunk drivers is illegal search and seizure which is also unconstitutional

    December 13, 2010 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  3. saw

    Its a good decision, its not the same as car insurance. YOU DONT have to drive so You are not forced to get insurance. The mandate forces people to get it, that does not mean those who need help will not get it it means if YOU choose not to then You will not be fined.

    December 13, 2010 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  4. Frank

    Amanda, car insurance is not mandatory. If you drive a car then it is but if you don't its not. Apples and oranges. Forcing everyone to buy health care insurance is such a bad idea,

    December 13, 2010 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  5. Kim Frederick

    You people are ridiculous. It is like auto insurance. One commenter wrote that it's not because auto insurance is mandated by the state and you only have to cover for harm you do to others. Don't you people understand that the people who are NOT insured, WE still pay for in our taxes? So if they don't have insurance, it does MORE harm to us, because they are getting critical care which is more expensive than preventative care. This isn't cut and dry, but once you know all the nuances, then you know Healthcare reform is necessary. Duh people.

    December 13, 2010 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  6. mike,pa

    why should you be required to buy health insurance. any time the government gets involved in anyhting they screw it up. why doesn't the government get off their cadallic plans and buy the insurance he is trying to shove down our throat. Finally people are waking up to this socialist president.

    December 13, 2010 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  7. Palin is an Idiot

    Republicans: If you don't want to purchase auto insurance, then don't buy a car! If you don't want to purchase health insurance, then don't live!

    Public Option NOW.

    December 13, 2010 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  8. Francois


    The focus of this portion of the health care debate is on the legality of the federal government to require individuals to sign-up for health insurance. Presently, it is illegal for the federal government to require individuals to purchase automobile insurance. Thus, by your logic, the same should be the case for healt care as well.

    It is true that many, if not all states do have some legislation in place to require a minimum level of automobile insurance in order to register a vehicle or hold a valid drivers license, but these are state and not federal laws.

    December 13, 2010 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  9. Anonymous

    By nearly a two to one margin, the American voter wants this law repealed. The judge not only sided with the Constitution, but with an overwhelming majority of the electorate.

    December 13, 2010 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  10. Tim


    So, it is illegal to mandate that Americans buy Health Insurance?

    Then it should also be illegal to mandate Americans buy Auto Insurance also."

    Um, no. We have a choice of owning a car or not and therefore are not forced to purchase auto insurance. Auto insurance is mandated because cars can potentially cause harm (property damage, injury, or even death) to OTHER PEOPLE, and therefore if someone wants to operate a motor vehicle they must have insurance to protect the OTHER PEOPLE through liability coverage. There is no such argument for individual health insurance, other than the potential for unreimbursed care that hospitals might get stuck with.

    December 13, 2010 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  11. TwM

    Amanda car insurance is not the same as health insurance. You don't have to buy a car, therefoe no need to buy.
    This is obviously going to the Supreme Court. When the Supreme Court verifies this decision, which it will then Obamacare dies. Everyone buying in was the key component for funding this poorly desgned bill.
    Those saying the majority want this?? Not a chance the majority would like the gov't to remove itself from our lives. What this does is create precedent and will mean the scrapping of this bill. THANK GOD

    December 13, 2010 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  12. TJ

    Donna and Garth, it is mandated to get car insurance because if you don't have it and then buy a car – you are penalized for not having it. This is from personal experience.

    If the law is you will be fined for not having healthcare, it is just like car insurance because if I choose to drive a car without it and get in an accident, I am effective the person that actually pays for insurance – high rates. If I don't get healthcare and use the emergency room for medical care – I am effecting the people who have it but they are paying for them and me. Either, way, not having any type of insurance is going hurt the ones that have it with higher rates.

    December 13, 2010 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  13. Ken

    This is NOT about the Democrats nor the Republicans, rather it is about the federal government telling us that we have to buy something that maybe we don't want. This mandate is going to make Obama a bit unhappy! Thank you Judge!

    December 13, 2010 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  14. fs

    GL the difference between Christians and Democrats is, Christians want to help individual people with our own resources; democrats want to help everyone with everyone elses resources and not their own.

    December 13, 2010 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  15. Free4Now

    Good news to start a Monday morning with ... although I am sure that this stubborn, ideologically driven Administration will continue to waste taxpayer resources by taking this to SCOTUS. The "people" don't want this legislation; it's unconstitutional and huge government over reach. Obama and his tactics were soundly rejected by the American voters in the midterms.

    It's time for the partisans in the Democratic party to accept reality and govern the way the majority want them to - which is STOP SPENDING and STOP EXPANDING THE FEDERAL GOVT!!

    Thank you, AG Cuccinelli, for bringing this suit on behalf of all Virginians. A much welcome early Christmas present!! :>)

    December 13, 2010 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  16. Really?

    No one is forced to buy auto insurance! I can choose not to buy auto insurance by not owning a car. Nothing says you HAVE to have a car, either – there is public transportation, other family members, friends, etc., you can use for transportation. You ARE FORCED to buy health insurance under Obamacare simply by being alive.

    December 13, 2010 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  17. joe

    There IS a God...

    December 13, 2010 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  18. b.jones

    Amen's ok to require us to have car iinsurance and to wear seatbelts......but all of a sudden it's unconstitutional to require us to have health insurance?.....what's up with that?

    December 13, 2010 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  19. ws6daveg

    Amanda, This brings up a good point. I dont want to pay social security since it will not be there when I get to retirement age.
    How is Social Security legal?

    December 13, 2010 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  20. Guy

    Technically driver's insurance is not mandated (at least not in VA), because 1. nobody is forcing you to drive, and 2. there is an uninsured motorist option in which you pay the government (what for I don't know).

    December 13, 2010 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  21. Marc

    Amanda: The judge ruled it was unconstitutional for the FEDERAL government to require individuals buy health insurance. The FEDERAL government does not require that you buy auto insurance. The STATE governments do that.

    December 13, 2010 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  22. Ryan

    @ Amanda

    Your comparison is a poor one. Americans CHOOSE to drive. If you CHOOSE to drive, you must buy car insurance. However, Americans have NO choice to live. This bill is the first time in American history that one is required to purchase something merely to live.

    December 13, 2010 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  23. Edward C,

    First of all, STATES mandate auto insurance, not the Federal Government. Secondly, we have a choice to drive, and if we don't want to pay for auto insurance, we don't have to drive. If we are mandated to have health insurance, the only alternative to avoid it is to stop breathing!!!

    December 13, 2010 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  24. Old Farmboy

    I only had to read two comments before the health care vs. auto insurance issue came into the game. Health care mandatory insurance is designed to cover the one whose name is on the policy... Auto insurance is designed to cover who you run into... So the medical, personal, property, and whatever else expenses are incurred to everyone else that is not on the policy don't come out of your pocket. Don't compare mandatory health to mandatory auto insurance. It's two different worlds

    December 13, 2010 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  25. Tex Calhoun

    To those who claim that buying health insurance is the same thing as buying auto insurance, you need to think that one through...

    No one is required to buy automotive insurance!

    The only people who are required to buy automotive insurance are people who drive. Many people do not drive for various reasons, especially in large cities with a strong public transportation infrastructure. And among those who do drive and are required to be financially responsible, in most states you can use a large deposit of cash as evidence of financial responsibility instead of an insurance policy.

    Furthermore, mandatory auto insurance is required only for your liability for damages to others, not for yourself. Quite a few people do not carry comprehensive coverage.

    So please, let's put the foolish "health insurance= auto insurance" meme to rest. It doesn't hold up to even a cursory bit of analysis.

    December 13, 2010 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
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