Federal Judge Rules Against Health Reform

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


A federal judge has ruled against the Democrats’ health care law, agreeing with Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s contention that the law’s requirement that Americans purchase health insurance (the so-called “individual mandate”) is unconstitutional.

It’s the first court ruling against Obama’s sweeping health reform law. In his ruling, Henry Hudson, a George W. Bush-appointed district judge, said the individual mandate went beyond the federal government’s authority to regulate interstate commerce under the Constitution. Compelling people to enter a commercial market, Hudson wrote, was tantamount to “invit[ing] unbridled exercise of federal police powers.” He continued: “At its core, this dispute is not simply about regulating the business of insurance—or crafting a scheme of universal health insurance coverage—it’s about an individual’s right to choose to participate.” But the judge also denied Virginia’s request to prevent the entire law from being implemented. Instead, he limited the scope of his ruling to the mandate.

Though the ruling is a significant setback for health reform, it’s only the latest legal development: two other federal courts have ruled in favor of the law, and another ruling is expected this Thursday. All these rulings are precursors to a highly anticipated Supreme Court battle. That fight could determine not only the fate of health reform, but also the political futures of the law’s major supporters and detractors.

For the moment, at least, it’s an unequivocal victory for Ken Cuccinelli, the conservative crusader and grassroots hero who called the challenge to health-care reform “a major priority for the Tea Party in Virginia.”

DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily bluster—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily bluster—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate