Judge strikes down federal health law, Georgia lawsuit pending

A federal judge on Monday ruled a federal mandate requiring individuals purchase health insurance is unconstitutional, prompting critics to declare victory in a months-long battle over healthcare reform.

“This decision guts ObamaCare and represents a decisive and significant victory for America against the largest power-grab by the federal government in U.S. history,” Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), said in a statement. “The court correctly concluded that forcing someone to buy health insurance is not economic activity and that Congress does not have that authority under the Commerce Clause.”

U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson ruled in a case filed by the state of Virginia. Georgia previously joined 19 other states in challenging the law; that lawsuit – initially filed by Florida’s attorney general – is still pending.

In a statement, Gov.-elect Nathan Deal, a Republican, said today’s ruling “suggests that our argument is gaining steam in the court system.”

“I am encouraged by today’s ruling,” Deal, a former member of Congress who voted against the healthcare measure, said in a statement. “The people of Georgia can rest assured we will continue to fight as we move forward to ensure that Georgians don’t lose their constitutional rights when it comes to choosing their health care.

“I look forward to working with Attorney Gen.-elect Sam Olens to see that our state continues to fight for the individual rights of Georgians,” Deal added. “Our case is partnered with the state of Florida, so today’s ruling doesn’t directly affect our state’s case, but it suggests that our argument is gaining steam in the court system. I do believe our position will win the day when one of these cases reaches the U.S. Supreme Court.”

In a statement, U.S. Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., said if the mandate withstood a challenge, “its unprecedented power to force citizens to purchase health coverage against their will were found to be constitutional, Congress would have essentially unlimited power to do anything,” Price said in a statement.

“The fight for patient-centered health care will continue,” Price added. “We should focus on the principles of access, affordability, quality, responsiveness, innovation, and patients’ choices without putting the federal government in charge.”

The lawsuit is likely to end up before the U.S. Supreme Court.

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