By Daily Mail Reporter
It IS unconstitutional: District Judge rules Obamacare ‘violates people’s rights’ as half of states win landmark challenge
President Obama’s controversial healthcare reforms were dealt a devastating blow today after a second federal judge declared the proposed law unconstitutional.
U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson in Pensacola, Florida ruled on the legal challenge brought by governors and attorneys general from 26 states.
He accepted the states’ argument that forcing people to buy health insurance by 2014, or face penalties, is a violation of their rights.
Today’s ruling will galvanise the GOP and opponents of the reform into preventing it coming into law.
Although more than two dozen lawsuits have been filed in federal courts, this Pensacola case has more prominence because it represents more than half of the U.S. states.
Government attorneys had argued that the states did not have legal standing to challenge the law and the case should be dismissed.
Judge Vinson’s ruling is the biggest judicial decision to be made since groups began filing lawsuits but ultimately the legal battle will undoubtedly end up in the U.S. Supreme Court.
The first legal challenge was filed on March 23, 2010, just hours after the President signed the reform into law – although much of the new reforms will not go into effect until 2014.
Opponents are trying to get the law dismissed before it comes into effect.
Judge Vinson dismissed four of the six counts in the suit led by former Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum but he allowed two counts to stand including one challenging the law’s requirement that Americans buy health insurance.
He said that a government report called the obligation to buy insurance legally unprecedented and worth examining in court.
‘The individual mandate applies across the board. People have no choice and there is no way to avoid it’, Judge Vinson wrote.
‘Those who fall under the individual mandate either comply with it, or they are penalized. It is not based on an activity that they make the choice to undertake. Rather, it is based solely on citizenship and on being alive.’
If Judge Vinson orders an injunction against that part of the law, the federal government will likely then seek an immediate stay against the ruling.
The GOP contend that the law is an intrusion into Americans’ private affairs, amounts to a government takeover of health care and is too costly.
They are particularly angered over a requirement that would force millions of uninsured Americans to buy health coverage, whether through an employer, a government program, or self-purchase.
An Associated Press-GfK poll taken this month found Americans almost evenly divided on the law. The poll found that 40 percent of those surveyed said they supported the law, while 41 per cent oppose it.
Strong opposition to the law stands at 30 per cent, close to the lowest levels registered in AP-GfK surveys dating to September 2009.