Federal Judge Rules Against Health Reform

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.


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.”

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest