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. Sad

    Almost all of these posts make me sad. Finger-pointing, misinformation and blame. I'm curious for more information about the "individual mandate" aspect this judge ruled unconstitutional. Because if a judge doesn't look at the laws with unbiased eyes, then why do we support any form of government – no matter who's in charge? Or do we just support when our guys are in power?

    December 13, 2010 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  2. just a conservative girl

    You don't have to have a car. You choose to buy a car. How can you not see the difference?

    December 13, 2010 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  3. Amos J Soma

    Amanda, my dear, no one is required to purchase auto insurance because no one is required to own or drive a car. You do that of your own free will and not only do you have to have insurance if you do, you also have to have a license.

    December 13, 2010 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  4. Steve

    The issue is the federal government over reaching their power. The federal law concerning auto insurance only mandates that you meet the minimum insurance requirements required by your state. The healthcare law exceeds the federal governments powers by mandating insurance, and spelling out what those minimum requirements are. Mandates are fine, but the federal government has well defined limits on its power over the states.

    December 13, 2010 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  5. Tim McCracken

    This can all be fixed, but the solution is so simple that the brains we elect can't grasp how easy it is to fix.
    FLAT TAX!!!! If you make less than $25,000 per year you pay no taxes; $25,001-$100,000 a year you pay 10% (comes straight out of your paycheck no tax season). $100,001-$250,000 you pay 15%; $250,001-Multi-billionaire you pay 20%. No loop holes, no discounts, no offshore accounts just pay and all the financial problems will go away and then we can provide insurance for those that need and WANT it. Plus we all get more money in our paycheck each pay day.
    To settle the national debt; a national lottery! Tickets cost $5 each, half of each sale goes directly to the government, the other half is put in a big pot that can be won each week or rolled over. When someone wins the money they are taxed on it and the debt will go away in about 2 years if it takes that long.
    Finally: Really get rid of the pork in the budget and get back to the government that provides for the common defense and the pursuit of happiness not every bodies whim; if you can't people to support your cause or business then you don't need to exist.

    December 13, 2010 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  6. Brad

    I don't think there is anyone, Republican or Democrat, who wants to see people not be able to afford health care. However, instead of insurance mandates and rules that make it insane to sell health insurance, why doesn't the government fix the reasons the costs are so high in the first place?

    I don't need drug advertisements on t.v. My doctor needs to know about the drugs, I don't. A band-aid does not cost as much as what you are charged for in a hospital. Lawsuits and malpractice insurance are ridiculous. My point all along is that nothing about health care, other than paying for it at over inflated prices, has been "reformed". This legislation is bad, it is unwanted, and creates more problem than it's worth. If we can find a way to control costs and give Americans an opportunity to have affordable health care then THAT would be a law with passing. This legislation only guarantees a lingering in this economic quagmire we're in.

    December 13, 2010 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  7. Jennifer


    You can get away with mandating auto insurance because you are not required by law to purchase a car. You should be asking yourself if they should make it a law forcing everyone to purchase a car thereby requiring insurance. Common misconception.

    December 13, 2010 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  8. Andrew

    I hate to break it to everyone, but this is not a republican vs democrat ruling; the constitution DOES NOT grant Congress the power to FORCE an American citizen to purchase anything, for any reason. The common comparison is auto insurance, which isn't the same thing at all; the state and county governments use tax money from gasoline and other sources to maintain roads and highways. The states require that any vehicle being used on public roadways carry current auto insurance; this is optional, they are not forcing you, since you *COULD* choose to not drive a motor vehicle. While it is unlikely that many people do choose to go without an automobile, the fact remains that the auto insurance is not mandatory, and is in exchange for use of state products and services (roads). The difference with the healthcare law is that it forces people to purchase a product with no chance to opt-out, which is something congress simply can not do; the government does not own your body, and it does not own the hospitals, therefore it can not penalize you for your use of either one.

    I wish everyone would pull their heads out of their butts and realize that some of us DO WANT healthcare reform, and DO WANT universal coverage of all Americans under quality health care; but we don't want our rights trampled to get it.

    December 13, 2010 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  9. Billclintonteachessexed

    So a liberal judge affirms it is constitutional and a republican judge rules it is unconstitutional and you people only criticize the repub? This is a socialist agenda pushed by your man child obama and backed by the mindless worshippers of his. You people have another thing coming if you think you're gonna take over this country.

    December 13, 2010 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  10. Dave Harris

    Funny how Republicans like "activist judges" when they're serving Republicans' interests.

    December 13, 2010 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  11. readtherules

    If you are going to comment on the judge's ruling you should read the opinion and anaylize the legal reasoning. Making snide comments about someone's political leanings doesn't contribute much to advancing an intellectual discussion of a legal ruling.

    December 13, 2010 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  12. Derek

    For those complaining about mandated auto insurance,

    your STATE mandates auto insurance, not the federal government. That's the issue here.

    States can issue individual mandates. The Feds cannot....well, depending on who you ask

    So many people have used the Constitution as toilet paper in recent memory, its hard to keep it straight.

    December 13, 2010 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  13. LGNY

    To those claiming people should not be required to buy health insurance. If you want the freedom to opt out, do you also accept the personal responsibility that follows: If you have no insurance, then you have no right to expect medical care beyond what you can personally afford. Most people want the benefit (health care) without the cost (insurance).

    So many critics do not understand that you are already paying for the uninsured in the form of higher medical costs to recover the unpaid bills. So your choice is to continue the present chaos or try to give it some measure of organization via the insurance industry.

    December 13, 2010 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  14. Ramrod

    I'm really sorry for those who either do not want or can't afford Medical Insurance! However, I work very hard and have all my 61 years, I have always provided medical coverage for myself and my family, and we are all healthy, thank God.
    I am not going to pay for someone elses insurance simply because, by some twisted standard, they cannot afford it. That's BS!! I bet they can afford the new car or the nice house though!!
    This is NOT a socialist country and SOCIALIZED MEDICINE will not make it here as long as I suck air!!

    December 13, 2010 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  15. fossten

    @ Amanda:

    Auto insurance is not mandated unless you drive a car. Flawed argument.

    December 13, 2010 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  16. GM

    No one is FORCED to buy auto insurance...if you CHOOSE to own a car, then you have to have insurance but you are not forced to own a car. You cannot compare auto and health is apples to oranges.

    December 13, 2010 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  17. Mikey

    I wish I were a federal judge, then I could interpret the Constitution anyway I wanted to, especially if it supports the views of one side or the other of an issue, and I like or dislike those views. Convenient. Every person required to purchase health care, who doesn't, gets free health care on the rest of us. If you want to continue to pay health care costs for illegal immigrants and the uninsured citizens of our great land, this decision will make you happy. Glad you have the money to throw away. Same holds true for car insurance, that's why most companies MAKE you pay for uninsured/underinsured drivers. All of you constitutional scholars out there keep least until all of your insurance premiums go up because YOUR constitution says this plan is illegal and you will be happy to pay for those who can't, or won't buy health insurance.

    December 13, 2010 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  18. GBMeyers

    Let the majority rule! Most Americans do not want Obamacare. They like some provisions of it but not the whole. Whenever liberals can't win a majority they resort to the courts. They couldn't win a majority in congress without severe armtwisting and flipping the bird to the American people. As for those who say "the judge is a Republican" I would say so what? Are you going to find a judge who is neither an R or a D? The judge ruled based on the way he interpreted the law. The federal government should be forced to stick to only its enumerated powers and leave the rest to the states.

    December 13, 2010 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  19. Britca

    You should buy health insurance because you are going to need it. If you cannot afford it, then the USA should provide it to you if you are here legally. WHEN you get sick the last thing we should have our hard working citizens worry about is cost. However, the health system does need reform – and this bill does that. We should move from fee for service to payments to look after groups and keep them healthy – and highlight hospitals who do that – so that others can learn how.
    The only people who should be unhappy are people making more than $250,000 per year, because yes they will need to pay a little more, however this is my USA too and they enjoy that environment which we all service and help create. Helping the less fortunate should be a proud part of being American.

    December 13, 2010 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  20. Andy

    Everybody come on now just relax. By 2014 I will be the richest most powerful man in the world. When this happens everyone except republicans will be granted free health insurance and I will ship all the republicans to another planet where their is no oxygen. This issue will just take care of itself at that point.

    December 13, 2010 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  21. paul

    Is paying taxes a illegal mandate also?

    December 13, 2010 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  22. Mick536

    The current health care bill made provisions for people who could not afford health care (I guess there had to be documented proof)... However, if it is ruled unconstitutional at the Supreme Court, I say follow through with the rest of the issue and pass a law that says it is illegal to show up at a hospital unless you have a credit card or other means to pay your bill; or limit the number of hospitals that will accept these patients. When John Smith has no insurance (even if the Fed Gov't will offer a subsidized plan) and runs up a bill for thousands of dollars and can't pay, that means I get to help pay it with increased costs to me...the hospital has to make its money back somehow. If you don't want anyone to force you to buy even a subsidized plan, I say I don't want anyone to force me to have to pay part of your bill. If you are taken to a hospital unconscious, I say move the person to a hospital that will accept the non-insured once it is determined this person has no means of paying. Sounds callous, but when many healthy Americans choose between even the slightest frill (a night at the movies, a new car, a simple vacation at a VA Beach) , but won't get even a subsidized health plan, I don't want to pay for them with higher rates to me.

    December 13, 2010 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  23. Mike Capp

    @Amanda You do not have to buy car insurance nor do you have to get a car or a license. How ever if you choose to you do not have to buy insurance to protect yourself only enough to protect others in the case of an accident.

    December 13, 2010 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  24. dannytelevision

    I guess Virginians don't want to use doctors. We already know they have no time for DENTISTS! baaaahahaha!

    December 13, 2010 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  25. Massachusetts

    Ive been forced to buy health insurance for 3 years now. Massachusetts is way ahead of the Fed. It's not paying for insurance that hurts us, it's who we are making the payments too. Get rid of the insurance companys. They are only here for profit, not your health. Why are so many people in this country so damn stupid?!!

    December 13, 2010 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
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