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Texas AG Happy That Federal Judge In Virginia Ruled Health Law Unconstitutional

Image courtesy lambdachialpha

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott is applauding a ruling from a federal district court judge in Virginia that invalidates a key provisions of the new health law.

Judge Henry Hudson issued an opinion today that said a provision in the law that requires most Americans to have health insurance oversteps the power granted Congress under the Commerce Clause of the Constitution, reports the New York Times.

Judge Henry E. Hudson, who was appointed to the bench by President George W. Bush, declined the plaintiff’s request to freeze implementation of the law pending appeal, meaning that there should be no immediate effect on the ongoing rollout of the law. But the ruling is likely to create confusion among the public and further destabilize political support for legislation that is under fierce attack from Republicans in Congress and in many statehouses.

Attorney General Abbott, who is part of a 20 state coalition challenging the law, issued this press release this afternoon praising the ruling.

AUSTIN – Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott released a statement following U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson’s ruling today in Virginia that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate violates the United States Constitution: “The federal court’s ruling is consistent with the Constitution and consistent with the American people. There are limits to congressional power, and Congress has overstepped its limits here by forcing Americans to purchase health insurance -- even against their will. “The court’s ruling is an important step toward limited government and reducing federal mandates. The judge’s decision bodes will for Texas’ position in its lawsuit challenging the constituionality of ObamaCare. “The federal health care takeover’s requirement that all Americans – against their will – purchase government-approved health insurance is unprecedented and violates the Constitution. The Commonwealth of Virginia’s challenge, as well as Texas’ challenge, contends that Congress does not have the authority to force individuals to buy a service from a private insurance company as a condition of being a law-abiding American, and unconstitutionally infringes upon Americans’ individual liberties. No public policy goal – no matter how important or well-intentioned – can be allowed to trample the protections and rights guaranteed by our Constitution.” Texas is part of a 20-state coalition against the federal health care law that includes Florida, South Carolina, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, Louisiana, Washington, Colorado, Michigan, Utah, Alabama, South Dakota, Idaho, Indiana, Mississippi, North Dakota, Arizona, Nevada, Georgia and Alaska. The lawsuit is filed in the Federal District Court in the Northern District of Florida. The states are joined in this lawsuit by the National Federation of Independent Business, and individual plaintiffs Mary Brown and Kaj Ahlburg. The lawsuit was filed immediately after President Barack Obama signed the bill into law. The legal action specifically challenges the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and names the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services, Treasury and Labor as defendants because those federal agencies are charged with implementing the Act's constitutionally impermissible provisions.

KUT's Ben Philpott is working on a story for this afternoon's edition of All Things Considered on KUT 90.5 FM. He spoke with University of Texas professor of law and government Scott Powe, who believes politics are behind the ruling.

"There have been three rulings. Two in favor of the law, one against the law. The two in favor of the law have been issued by Democratic federal district judges. The one against the law was issued by a Republican federal judge. And party affiliation explains everything," Powe said.

"The issue is whether the Commerce Clause justifies the law, and the Supreme Court has held that you can regulate homegrown wheat under the Commerce Clause, and with the health law, if 16 percent of the national economy doesn't affect interstate commerce, I'm hard pressed to think of what does," he said.

Nathan Bernier is the transportation reporter at KUT. He covers the big projects that are reshaping how we get around Austin, like the I-35 overhaul, the airport's rapid growth and the multibillion-dollar transit expansion Project Connect. He also focuses on the daily changes that affect how we walk, bike and drive around the city. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on X @KUTnathan.