VA Attorney General: Judge’s Ruling Confirms Individual Mandate in ObamaCare is Unconstitutional

By Nicholas Ballasy | December 13, 2010 | 11:49 PM EST

( -- Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli praised a Virginia federal judge’s ruling on Monday that the mandate requiring people to buy health insurance or pay a penalty as stipulated in the new health care law is unconstitutional.

However, Cuccinelli also said the ruling is just one stage of a “long process” that will “all end at the U.S. Supreme Court.”

Cuccinelli went on to say that Judge Henry Hudson’s ruling, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, indicated a rejection of the federal government’s argument that not purchasing health insurance could be considered “economic activity.”

“There are two basic findings in the case,” Cuccinelli told reporters at the Pocahontas Building on East Main Street in Richmond, Va. “One, the individual mandate is unconstititutional because ordering Americans to buy health insurance, as the bill does, is beyond the Congress’ power under the Commerce Clause. And two, that the bill is not saved by the taxing power Congress has by applying a penalty to those Americans who do not buy the government-mandated health insurance.”

He continued, “We are one stage farther, nonetheless this is still going to be a long process and I would presume, I think it’s a reasonable presumption, that this will all end at the U.S. Supreme Court. And while we look forward to getting there, we are much happier to go with a win in round one.”

“The federal government asked the [District] court to call economic activity or something affecting economic activity the decision by individual Americans not to buy health insurance, the decision not to buy health insurance,” Cuccinelli told reporters.

The Commerce Clause in the U.S. Constitution says, “The Congress shall have power … to regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian tribes.”

By requiring individuals to purchase health insurance or face a penalty, as the health care law pushed by the Obama administration mandates, Cuccinelli said the government is attempting to “convert” the decision to “do nothing into economic activity.”

“They [the federal government] wanted to convert the decision to do nothing into economic activity or into something that affects economic activity, and this judge and this court rejected that leap of logic and language,” said Cuccinelli.


President Obama signs the Democrats’ health care bill into law in the East Room of the White House on Tuesday, March 23, 2010. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

“The dictionary at times looked like a major impediment to the federal government’s case here and, in this respect it was again, and the judge was explicit about rejecting this rationale,” he said.

Later in the press conference, Cuccinelli quoted the following portion of the judge’s ruling:  “Despite the laudable intentions of Congress in enacting a comprehensive and transformative health care regime, the legislative process must still operate within constitutional bounds -- salutatory goals and creative drafting have never been sufficient to offset an absence of enumerated powers.”

Cuccinelli said this shows that the goals of the legislation were not pursued within the powers of the Constitution so the courts must strike it down.

“This is a formal way to say that the goals here were noble in this bill but even noble goals may only be pursued within the powers of the Constitution, and that did not happen with this piece of legislation and so the courts must strike it down,” he said.