As U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson passed down his ruling on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, I felt an immediate need to respond to the ruling.
First of all, Republicans are sure to seize on this ruling as justification for the law’s repeal. Their logic, however, will be flawed. The law has already been upheld as constitutional by two judges, and the only judge that has ruled it unconstitutional simply focused on the individual mandate. Judge Vinson has made the unprecedented step of going as far as ruling the entire law unconstitutional, a clearly inappropriate and unprecedented action with a bill of the size, scope, and importance as the healthcare reform law.
Its clear that question of constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is not a constitutional question, but rather a conflict of partisan ideology. The lawsuit in Florida was filed by a Republican Attorney General. Not by accident, it was filed in a court in Pensacola, one of the most conservative parts of the state. In the collection of states that sued following the passage of the healthcare bill, almost all of them have Republican governors or attorney generals.
Former Republican Attorney General of Florida Bill McCollum filed his lawsuit minutes after the bill was passed by congress. While the majority of Republicans were complaining about not having enough time to read or understand the complex legislation, Attorney General McCollum clearly had enough time to understand it to sue to take healthcare and benefits away from millions of deserving Americans.
Most striking is Florida Governor Rick Scott’s discussion of the ruling, as explored by the Huffington Post. He called the bill “an unprecedented and unconstitutional infringement on the liberty of the American people.” When it has been determined the prison inmates across the country have a right to healthcare, it’s quite clear that Judge Vinson infringed on the rights and liberty of millions of Americans by removing their ability to purchase and receive healthcare. One can only hope that the Supreme Court will act with more prudence and thoughtful consideration when the bill inevitably makes it to their docket.