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Fla. judge strikes down Obama health care overhaul


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Fla. judge strikes down Obama health care overhaul

AP

US judge rules healthcare reform unconstitutional Reuters – U.S. President Barack Obama speaks about the situation in Egypt at the White House in Washington January …

By MELISSA NELSON, Associated Press Melissa Nelson, Associated Press – 1 min ago

PENSACOLA, Fla. – A federal judge ruled Monday that the Obama administration's health care overhaul is unconstitutional, siding with 26 states that sued to block it. U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson accepted without trial the states' argument that the new law violates people's rights by forcing them to buy health insurance by 2014 or face penalties.

Attorneys for the administration had argued that the states did not have standing to challenge the law and that the case should be dismissed.

The next stop is likely the U.S. Supreme Court. Two other federal judges have upheld the insurance requirement, but a federal judge in Virginia also ruled the insurance provision violates the Constitution.

In his ruling, Vinson went further than the Virginia judge and declared the entire health care law unconstitutional.

"This is obviously a very difficult task. Regardless of how laudable its attempts may have been to accomplish these goals in passing the Act, Congress must operate within the bounds established by the Constitution," Vinson wrote in his 78-page ruling.

At issue was whether the government is reaching beyond its constitutional power to regulate interstate commerce by requiring citizens to purchase health insurance or face tax penalties.

Attorneys for President Barack Obama's administration had argued that the health care system was part of the interstate commerce system. They said the government can levy a tax penalty on Americans who decide not to purchase health insurance because all Americans are consumers of medical care.

But attorneys for the states said the administration was essentially coercing the states into participating in the overhaul by holding billions of Medicaid dollars hostage. The states also said the federal government is violating the Constitution by forcing a mandate on the states without providing money to pay for it.

Florida's former Republican Attorney General Bill McCollum filed the lawsuit just minutes after Obama signed the 10-year, $938 billion health care bill into law in March. He chose a court in Pensacola, one of Florida's most conservative cities. The nation's most influential small business lobby, the National Federation of Independent Business, also joined.

Other states that joined the suit are: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Indiana, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

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U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson accepted without trial

Help me out here Dave...this basically means Judge Vinson granted summary judgment to the plaintiffs, right? So he's saying that no reasonable finder of fact could come to a different conclusion of the facts, based entirely off of the pleadings, and that as a matter of law there is only one outcome, right?

It would seem if that was the case, that he wouldn't need a 78 page opinion to back up his decision.

It also seems likely that the Court of Appeals, or Supreme Court later, will find that it was at least something reasonable people could reach a different conclusion on and remand for further proceedings.

If I'm reading it entirely wrong, what am I missing?

Edited by The Monarch
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OK kids, the word for the day is Authoritarianism

Never good to start off an argument by speaking in such a condescending tone. I don't understand why conservatives can't get behind a health care mandate. There are lots of things in life that are mandated. Everyone gets sick. Everyone needs health care. When people who don't have health care get sick, guess who pays for it in the end? To put it in a conservative term it mandates people to grab their boot straps.

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Help me out here Dave...this basically means Judge Vinson granted summary judgment to the plaintiffs, right? So he's saying that no reasonable finder of fact could come to a different conclusion of the facts, based entirely off of the pleadings, and that as a matter of law there is only one outcome, right?

It would seem if that was the case, that he wouldn't need a 78 page opinion to back up his decision.

It also seems likely that the Court of Appeals, or Supreme Court later, will find that it was at least something reasonable people could reach a different conclusion on and remand for further proceedings.

If I'm reading it entirely wrong, what am I missing?

He did grant summary judgment, but he decided a legal issue, so I don't know if it's really a jury issue in the first place (assuming, of course, his reasoning is correct, and I'm not assuming that, just marking out the procedural boundaries).

Juries don't decide Constitutionality of a statute. Judges do. Since his decision was based on a legal claim, I can see why he took a lot of time to sort it out.

Here's the full decision:

http://www.scribd.com/doc/47906586/Florida-Federal-Judge-Voids-Entire-Health-Care-Law

OK kids, the word for the day is Authoritarianism

Yes, we know how you hate authoritarian capitalism.

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Never good to start off an argument by speaking in such a condescending tone. I don't understand why conservatives can't get behind a health care mandate. There are lots of things in life that are mandated. Everyone gets sick. Everyone needs health care. When people who don't have health care get sick, guess who pays for it in the end? To put it in a conservative term it mandates people to grab their boot straps.

Coolest. Screenname. Ever.

Cool avatar as well.

The reason conservatives don't like the mandate is it is a pretty unprecedented thing. It's not comparable to car insurance (mandated only if you want to drive on the public roadways), etc. It's pretty much a requirement by the government to engage in private commerce for the profit of a third party.

Of course, that's not to say why SB doesn't like it -- he doesn't like it because President Obama signed it.

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Coolest. Screenname. Ever.

Cool avatar as well.

The reason conservatives don't like the mandate is it is a pretty unprecedented thing. It's not comparable to car insurance (mandated only if you want to drive on the public roadways), etc. It's pretty much a requirement by the government to engage in private commerce for the profit of a third party.

Of course, that's not to say why SB doesn't like it -- he doesn't like it because President Obama signed it.

Thanks man. I used to be LennonMcCartney but I havent posted in a while so I figured I would change it up a bit. Gotta love The Band. Danko/Manuel is actually the name of a song by the Drive-by Truckers if you were not aware. My avatar is one of their logos. **** good stuff.

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Thanks man. I used to be LennonMcCartney but I havent posted in a while so I figured I would change it up a bit. Gotta love The Band. Danko/Manuel is actually the name of a song by the Drive-by Truckers if you were not aware. My avatar is one of their logos. **** good stuff.

Oh, I'm fully aware -- one of my favorite bands. We'll probably cover a Truckers song at our next gig (which one being the only question). Cooley is the jam, so I'm pushing for "Love Like This."

I didn't realize that was you, so it's even cooler now!

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He did grant summary judgment, but he decided a legal issue, so I don't know if it's really a jury issue in the first place (assuming, of course, his reasoning is correct, and I'm not assuming that, just marking out the procedural boundaries).

Juries don't decide Constitutionality of a statute. Judges do. Since his decision was based on a legal claim, I can see why he took a lot of time to sort it out.

Here's the full decision:

http://www.scribd.com/doc/47906586/Florida-Federal-Judge-Voids-Entire-Health-Care-Law

Even without a jury, it would be a bench trial and the judge would serve as trier of fact (of which many were disputed, according to the decision). The judge would at least have a chance to hear all the evidence, arguments, etc. (not that he didn't hear any thoughout hearings and amicus briefs). By granting judgment, he is saying as a matter of law, there is only one way this could come out, no further proceedings necessary. That's why I think this will get overturned and remanded at some point.

As he accurately quotes from the F.R.C.P., “shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 56.

Nice quote on p. 26:

"The drafters of the Constitution were aware that they were preparing an instrument for the ages, not one suited only for the exigencies of that particular time."

Which underscores the weakness of this argument:

"However, the presumption is arguably weakened, and an “absence of power” might reasonably be inferred where --- as here --- “earlier Congresses avoided use of this highly attractive power.” Printz v. United States, 521 U.S. 898, 905, 908,117 S. Ct. 2365, 138 L. Ed. 2d 914 (1997); id. at 907-08"

All in all a well thought out first 50 pages of ruling that I disagree with in many areas. His analogy to purchase of food I find fairly ridiculous. At any rate, this decision would have a far greater chance to be upheld were a full trial allowed. Now, all that's needed to overturn this decision is a showing that reasonable minds could differ, and that it should have gone to trial. The fact that district court rulings on the subject have been split is fair evidence of that.

I would feel the same way, btw, if he had summarily dismissed the claims under 12(B)(6) or 56 (and incidentally, he did grant summary judgment in favor of defendants on Count IV).

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Even without a jury, it would be a bench trial and the judge would serve as trier of fact (of which many were disputed, according to the decision). The judge would at least have a chance to hear all the evidence, arguments, etc. (not that he didn't hear any thoughout hearings and amicus briefs). By granting judgment, he is saying as a matter of law, there is only one way this could come out, no further proceedings necessary. That's why I think this will get overturned and remanded at some point.

As he accurately quotes from the F.R.C.P., “shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 56.

Nice quote on p. 26:

"The drafters of the Constitution were aware that they were preparing an instrument for the ages, not one suited only for the exigencies of that particular time."

Which underscores the weakness of this argument:

"However, the presumption is arguably weakened, and an “absence of power” might reasonably be inferred where --- as here --- “earlier Congresses avoided use of this highly attractive power.” Printz v. United States, 521 U.S. 898, 905, 908,117 S. Ct. 2365, 138 L. Ed. 2d 914 (1997); id. at 907-08"

All in all a well thought out first 50 pages of ruling that I disagree with in many areas. His analogy to purchase of food I find fairly ridiculous. At any rate, this decision would have a far greater chance to be upheld were a full trial allowed. Now, all that's needed to overturn this decision is a showing that reasonable minds could differ, and that it should have gone to trial. The fact that district court rulings on the subject have been split is fair evidence of that.

I would feel the same way, btw, if he had summarily dismissed the claims under 12(B)(6) or 56 (and incidentally, he did grant summary judgment in favor of defendants on Count IV).

What facts would a trial bring out that would change the legal analysis?

The law says the Congress has a right to force people to engage in commerce. The judge said that is not Constitutional. If it's in dispute that this is what the law does, that's one thing. But if the parties are in agreement on the material facts (and by material, I mean those facts that tend to show the law forces people to engage in commerce), then I'm not sure what the utility of a trial would be.

It's similar to the Prop. 8 trial in California. At the end of the day, both sides presented evidence, etc., but the trial wasn't really material because at the end of the day, it was a Constitutional issue, not a factual issue. The judge could have ruled on it by stipulated evidence. I see this as kind of the same thing, but I admit I could be missing something.

And, FWIW, I'm not convinced this judge is right. But if he'd gone the other way I wouldn't assume it was because he failed to get all the facts in evidence with a trial. The law kind of is what it is.

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What facts would a trial bring out that would change the legal analysis?

The law says the Congress has a right to force people to engage in commerce. The judge said that is not Constitutional. If it's in dispute that this is what the law does, that's one thing. But if the parties are in agreement on the material facts (and by material, I mean those facts that tend to show the law forces people to engage in commerce), then I'm not sure what the utility of a trial would be.

It's similar to the Prop. 8 trial in California. At the end of the day, both sides presented evidence, etc., but the trial wasn't really material because at the end of the day, it was a Constitutional issue, not a factual issue. The judge could have ruled on it by stipulated evidence. I see this as kind of the same thing, but I admit I could be missing something.

And, FWIW, I'm not convinced this judge is right. But if he'd gone the other way I wouldn't assume it was because he failed to get all the facts in evidence with a trial. The law kind of is what it is.

Whether the law was requiring inactivity versus activity was in question, which is where he hits both the food and housing analogies. I think it is inactivity (as did this judge), but apparently two other district courts disagree and there certainly could be a dispute.

I disagree with a statement like this: "the mere status of being without health insurance, in and of itself, has absolutely no impact whatsoever on interstate commerce (not “slight,” “trivial,” or “indirect,” but no impact whatsoever)"

which is funny, because after making a point of "no impact whatsoever," he then immediately moves to qualify the statement.

But, whether it does or does not affect commerce is not a question of law, it's a question of fact. This is evidenced by the calculation he comes up just following that doesn't cite any authority (from the courts, economists or mathematicians) to confirm said calculation as a truism of law.

At the end of the day, I kind of think all these courts are just waiting for guidance from the Supreme Court.

Edited by The Monarch
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Full disclosure, I am no Obama groupie.

However, this judge has gone out of his way to be political in his findings. To cite a comment then candidate Obama made on the campaign trail:

“I note that in 2008, then-Senator Obama supported a health care reform proposal that did not include an individual mandate because he was at that time strongly opposed to the idea, stating that ‘if a mandate was the solution, we can try that to solve homelessness by mandating everybody to buy a house,’”

This is what our old friend Mojo would rightfully paste as exhibit "A" of being "butthurt".

It's more of the same. When the 10th District does it the Republicans scream judicial activism, the Democrats are within their rights to say the same here and instead of debating the role of Government in our lives this is quickly going to devolve into another mud slinging fight over which party is correct.

A pox on both their houses. Why can't they just leave us alone...

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Full disclosure, I am no Obama groupie.

However, this judge has gone out of his way to be political in his findings. To cite a comment then candidate Obama made on the campaign trail:

“I note that in 2008, then-Senator Obama supported a health care reform proposal that did not include an individual mandate because he was at that time strongly opposed to the idea, stating that ‘if a mandate was the solution, we can try that to solve homelessness by mandating everybody to buy a house,’”

This is what our old friend Mojo would rightfully paste as exhibit "A" of being "butthurt".

It's more of the same. When the 10th District does it the Republicans scream judicial activism, the Democrats are within their rights to say the same here and instead of debating the role of Government in our lives this is quickly going to devolve into another mud slinging fight over which party is correct.

A pox on both their houses. Why can't they just leave us alone...

Only my government can save us from your government!!! :angry::angry:

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I sure wish we had no government like those lucky folks in Tunisia. Nice.

I respect your right to order likeminded folks like you around, but at the end of the day it all looks a little something like this:

I, the party of the first part (“the ruler”), promise:

(1) To stipulate how much of your money you will hand over to me, as well as how, when, and where the transfer will be made. You will have no effective say in the matter, aside from pleading for my mercy, and if you should fail to comply, my agents will punish you with fines, imprisonment, and (in the event of your persistent resistance) death.

(2) To make thousands upon thousands of rules for you to obey without question, again on pain of punishment by my agents. You will have no effective say in determining the content of these rules, which will be so numerous, complex, and in many cases beyond comprehension that no human being could conceivably know about more than a handful of them, much less their specific character, yet if you should fail to comply with any of them, I will feel free to punish you to the extent of a law made my me and my confederates.

(3) To provide for your use, on terms stipulated by me and my agents, so-called public goods and services. Although you may actually place some value on a few of these goods and services, most will have little or no value to you, and some you will find utterly abhorrent, and in no event will you as an individual have any effective say over the goods and services I provide, notwithstanding any economist’s ****-and-bull story to the effect that you “demand” all this stuff and value it at whatever amount of money I choose to expend for its provision.

(4) In the event of a dispute between us, judges beholden to me for their appointment and salaries will decide how to settle the dispute. You can expect to lose in these settlements, if your case is heard at all.

In exchange for the foregoing government “benefits,” you, the party of the second part (“the subject”), promise:

(5) To shut up, make no waves, obey all orders issued by the ruler and his agents, kowtow to them as if they were important, honorable people, and when they say “jump,” ask only “how high?”

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I respect your right to order likeminded folks like you around, but at the end of the day it all looks a little something like this:

And I respect your right to completely misinterpret my beliefs. I also respect your right to simplify complex situations down to more understandable themes like "government bad" or "revolution good." I don't think we have a perfect system, or even a great one. I realize that it is still a system that can be improved without violent revolution.

To make thousands upon thousands of rules for you to obey without question,

Who says you can't question? You're questioning right now on a message board. I question the government all the time, both anonymously online and in person out in public. Further, people question the government in public forums that are broadcast on TV, radio and the internet.

In exchange for the foregoing government “benefits,” you, the party of the second part (“the subject”), promise:

(5) To shut up, make no waves, obey all orders issued by the ruler and his agents, kowtow to them as if they were important, honorable people, and when they say “jump,” ask only “how high?”

You forget the benefits of living in a country where you're free to whine about these things in any number of forum, and do so with relative safety. You have the benefit of being assured that fluctuations in the harvest of wheat in Russia doesn't cause a food crisis here. You have the benefit of knowing that minor crises don't cause all law to break down, threatening the safety of your family and friends.

And lastly, you forget the benefit of being able to make waves like you do without being executed or thrown in a pit to rot forever.

Edited by The Monarch
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You have the benefit of knowing that minor crises don't cause all law to break down, threatening the safety of your family and friends.

And lastly, you forget the benefit of being able to make waves like you do without being executed or thrown in a pit to rot forever.

I beg to differ. A few years ago there was a crisis of unimaginable magnitude. I wrote letters to my Congressman, camped out at the Senate, and offered to get the governor a hooker. But not a single damned one of them intervened and prevented Fox from canceling Firefly :angry:

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Whether the law was requiring inactivity versus activity was in question, which is where he hits both the food and housing analogies. I think it is inactivity (as did this judge), but apparently two other district courts disagree and there certainly could be a dispute.

Did the government disagree it required activity? I find that a bit incredible, to be honest. How is requiring an affirmative purchase of a product in commerce anything but activity?

I disagree with a statement like this: "the mere status of being without health insurance, in and of itself, has absolutely no impact whatsoever on interstate commerce (not “slight,” “trivial,” or “indirect,” but no impact whatsoever)"

which is funny, because after making a point of "no impact whatsoever," he then immediately moves to qualify the statement.

But, whether it does or does not affect commerce is not a question of law, it's a question of fact. This is evidenced by the calculation he comes up just following that doesn't cite any authority (from the courts, economists or mathematicians) to confirm said calculation as a truism of law.

At the end of the day, I kind of think all these courts are just waiting for guidance from the Supreme Court.

No doubt about that. And oddly enough, I tend to think a state law with the same effect would likely be Constitutional, and more odd, I think a single-payer law would avoid the entire issue.

I don't want single-payer, so that's not a statement of my wishes. I do think it's a different scenario, though.

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I beg to differ. A few years ago there was a crisis of unimaginable magnitude. I wrote letters to my Congressman, camped out at the Senate, and offered to get the governor a hooker. But not a single damned one of them intervened and prevented Fox from canceling Firefly :angry:

I forgot all about the great Firefly riots of 2003. We lost many a good nerd that day. *pours some out for the homies*

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Did the government disagree it required activity? I find that a bit incredible, to be honest. How is requiring an affirmative purchase of a product in commerce anything but activity?

No doubt about that. And oddly enough, I tend to think a state law with the same effect would likely be Constitutional, and more odd, I think a single-payer law would avoid the entire issue.

I don't want single-payer, so that's not a statement of my wishes. I do think it's a different scenario, though.

"The defendants insist that the uninsured are active. In fact, they even go so far as to make the claim --- which the plaintiffs call “absurd” --- that going without health insurance constitutes “economic activity to an even greater extent than the plaintiffs in Wickard or Raich.” See Def. Mem. at 29. They offer two (some what overlapping) arguments why the appearance of inactivity here is just an “illusion.”"

He cites the memo but doesn't specifically reference the argument. Like you, I think it's fairly obvious that it's inactivity, but I do believe there are arguments to be made.

Still, my main point is that he should have held trial for his decision itself to hold much sway. If he had, and then issued this same decision, on appeal it would have to be shown that he incorrectly interpreted the law. As it stands, all that has to be shown for it to be remanded now is that he might have misinterpreted the law.

Edited by The Monarch
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"The defendants insist that the uninsured are active. In fact, they even go so far as to make the claim --- which the plaintiffs call “absurd” --- that going without health insurance constitutes “economic activity to an even greater extent than the plaintiffs in Wickard or Raich.” See Def. Mem. at 29. They offer two (some what overlapping) arguments why the appearance of inactivity here is just an “illusion.”"

I'm sorry -- I was getting the objection backwards. I thought the government was saying they weren't requiring someone to act. I see the point now -- is not purchasing insurance "inactivity" or is it actively affecting interstate commerce by placing a burden on the current system.

Yeah, I can agree that's a closer question. And a more factual one.

He cites the memo but doesn't specifically reference the argument. Like you, I think it's fairly obvious that it's inactivity, but I do believe there are arguments to be made.

Still, my main point is that he should have held trial for his decision itself to hold much sway. If he had, and then issued this same decision, on appeal it would have to be shown that he incorrectly interpreted the law. As it stands, all that has to be shown for it to be remanded now is that he might have misinterpreted the law.

I don't know -- I honestly think it's pretty much a legal question at its core. I suppose the government could show an affect on interstate commerce by the inactivity, but the point still stands that what the law does -- imposing a requirement to engage in interstate commerce -- is what is at issue. Even if the government can show an effect on interstate commerce by the inactivity (and I think it can), I don't think it can show that it can require activity to correct it. That's why I said single payer is imminently more Constitutional than what we currently have. Especially when the mandate at issue is, for most, unfunded (and, to top it off, where it is funded it is required to be funded by the several states).

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