States’ lawsuit over health care can move forward, judge rules

Key components of a lawsuit that 20 states filed against the federal government in response to the controversial healthcare bill Congress passed in March can move forward, a federal judge ruled today.

“This ruling is a victory for the States, small businesses and the American people,” Attorney General Bill McCollum said in a statement. “It is the first step to having the individual mandate declared unconstitutional and upholding state sovereignty in our federal system.

“Congress has no constitutional authority to force the individual mandate and its penalty on Americans who cannot afford or do not wish to have health insurance,” McCollum added. “Regardless of whether the Obama Administration argues it is a tax or regulation, it is an unjust burden on the American public.”

McCollum filed the lawsuit March 23 in the Northern District of Florida. McCollum argues the health care law “infringes upon the constitutional rights of Floridians and residents of the other states by mandating all citizens and legal residents have qualifying health care coverage or pay a tax penalty.” Georgia is among the 19 additional states that joined Florida in the lawsuit.

“For far too long, liberals have managed to pervert the Constitution’s meaning and stretch the limits of government,” U.S. Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., said in a statement. “Those days are coming to an end. The country has awakened to the Democrats’ unending push to give Uncle Sam more power and control, and Americans are fighting back.

“Congress cannot legally force every single American to buy health insurance that the federal government specifically defines,” Price added. “While this ObamaCare battle plays out in the court room, Republicans in Congress will fight to repeal this unconstitutional overreach and replace it with reforms that empower people with the freedom to make their own health care decisions.”

As part of this ruling, U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson dismissed portions of the lawsuit, but allowed others to proceed.

“The Act is a controversial and polarizing law about which reasonable and intelligent people can disagree in good faith,” Vinson wrote in his ruling.

“One could reasonably infer that Congress proceeded as it did specifically because it did not want the penalty to be ‘scrutinized’ as a $4 billion annual tax increase, and it did not want at that time to be ‘held accountable for taxes that they imposed,’” the judge wrote. “…It seems likely that the members of Congress merely called it a penalty and did not describe it as revenue-generating to try and insulate themselves from the potential electoral ramifications of their votes.”

No matter the outcome of the lawsuit, the action is likely to make its way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

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