Federal District Court judge Roger Vinson has ruled that the entire Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. “Obamacare,” is unconstitutional. As Dan Foster notes, the ruling does not halt the implementation of the law, but it is the widest invalidation of Obamacare to yet emerge from the courts.
(As I mentioned in the Three Martini Lunch today, the great Randy Barnett mentioned to me that public opinion can have an influence on justices’ thinking. He suspects the Supreme Court would be less likely to strike down a popular but Constitutionally disputed law, but it may strike down an unpopular, Constitutionally-disputed law.)
The National Republican Senatorial Committee is hoping to use this decision to drive a wedge between Sen. Bill Nelson, a Democrat, and most Floridians:
As you consider the breaking news out of Florida where a federal judge has ruled that the entire health care reform law is unconstitutional, I would remind you what Florida’s senior Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL), a strong supporter of ObamaCare, told the Orlando Sentinel last year:
· “Supporters Of The Individual Mandate, Including Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson Of Florida, Insist Lawyers In Congress Have Thoroughly Researched It And Are Confident It Passes Constitutional Muster.” (Editorial, “Clear Up Reform Doubt,” Orlando Sentinel, 1/8/10)
In addition, you may also recall that earlier this year, Senator Nelson suddenly proclaimed ignorance of the individual mandate. As The Hill reported:
· Vulnerable Democratic incumbents are bracing for a bruising debate on healthcare after the House votes on a total repeal of the law next week… Sen. Bill Nelson (Fla.), another Democrat who could have a neck-and-neck race in 2012, declined to defend the individual mandate. “I’m going to study it,” he said.
Study it, Senator Nelson? Then how does he explain this vote?
· Nelson Voted To Kill An Amendment That Would Have Removed The Individual Mandate From The Health Care Bill.“Baucus, D-Mont., motion to table (kill) the Ensign, R-Nev. amendment no. 3710 that would repeal provisions of the 2010 health care overhaul law that provide for IRS penalties for certain taxpayers that do not obtain basic health insurance coverage.” (H.R. 4872, CQ Vote #101: Motion agreed to 58-40: R 0-40; D 56-0; I 2-0, 3/25/10, Nelson Voted Yea)
Whoever Bill Nelson faces in 2012, it’s a safe bet his opponent will bring up Obamacare early and often…