Fla. Judge Rules Healthcare Law Unconstitutional

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A federal judge ruled Monday that the new health care law is unconstitutional. The judge agreed with the 26 states who argued that the federal government cannot require Americans to buy health insurance.

Within minutes of signing the health care bill into law, Florida was the first state to challenge its constitutionality and 25 other states joined that lawsuit.

In a decision handed down by U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson, the entire law should be struck down.

The judge, appointed by former President Ronald Reagan, said the principal dispute was not whether Congress has the power to take on health care, but if it has the power to force citizens to buy insurance.

"What it says is this is about liberty it's not just about health care," said Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi.

In his 78-page ruling, Vinson wrote the government doesn't have the power to require people to buy health insurance.

He compared the government mandate to a hypothetical requirement that all Americans must buy broccoli, because it would be better for the country and the medical system.

"Not only because the required purchases will positively impact interstate commerce, but also because people who eat healthier tend to be healthier, and are thus more productive and put less of a strain on the health care system," Vinson wrote.

Opponents of the health care law said the judge's ruling is only the beginning.

"This is a great step hopefully this is a part of dismantling the health care act," said Gov. Rick Scott, R-Fla.

The Justice Department said it intends to appeal the ruling.

"We don't believe this kind of judicial activism will be upheld," the White House said on its website. "Similar legal challenges to major new laws -- including the Social Security Act, the Civil Rights Act, and the Voting Rights Act -- were all filed and all failed."

Republicans have used the ruling to challenge the U.S. Senate to follow the U.S. House of Representatives' lead and allow a vote to repeal the law.

However, the Senate's top leader, Harry Reid, D-Nev., won't bring it up for debate.

Last week -- in his State of the Union address -- President Barack Obama expressed a willingness to fix flaws in the law, but he defended its purpose.

"I say to this chamber tonight, instead of re-fighting the battles of the last two years, let's fix what needs fixing and let's move forward," Obama said.

The Florida judge's ruling is just one of several cases filed in U.S. courts -- some judges have ruled in favor and some have ruled against the new law.

Ultimately, the final legal decision will likely be made by the U.S. Supreme Court.

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John Jessup

John Jessup

CBN News Anchor

John Jessup serves as the main news anchor for CBN, a position he assumed after 10 years reporting for the network in Washington, D.C. His work in broadcast news has earned him several awards in reporting, producing, and coordinating elections coverage. Follow John on Twitter @JohnCBNNews and "like" him at Facebook.com/John.V.Jessup.