Pensacola judge Roger Vinson has struck down the “individual mandate” of ObamaCare, ruling it unconstitutional. In concert with the ruling by Judge Henry Hudson of Virginia in December, it would appear this central provision of the President’s health-care takeover will be forced to fight for its survival in the U.S. Supreme Court.
The individual mandate is an indispensible lynchpin of the ObamaCare scheme. Not even its most blinkered defenders can carry water for it, unless the mandate is included. (That doesn’t mean they won’t try. They’ll just look ridiculous doing it.)
A key provision of ObamaCare is the way it compels insurance companies to become welfare agencies by covering pre-existing conditions. In other words, the companies are no longer selling anything resembling insurance against catastrophe. They’re acting as agencies to redistribute wealth, charging inflated premiums to everyone who doesn’t need serious care, while they are compelled to finance treatment for those who do. “Insurance” becomes a very mysterious currency used to purchase health care, its exchange rates completely invisible to the “customers.”
This system can only pretend to work if everyone is compelled to purchase insurance, beginning at a young age. Otherwise, people would just hold off buying insurance until they became seriously ill, and then loudly demand companies give them an affordable plan which covers their pre-existing conditions. The pool of money Obama and his acolytes are drooling over won’t materialize if people are not forced to buy expensive insurance policies when they’re healthy. Compelling insurance companies to subsidize the seriously ill, instead of using actuarial logic to sell true “insurance,” guarantees the end of cheap coverage for the robust.
The two judges actually attacked the individual mandate from different directions. The earlier ruling from Judge Hudson in Virginia concerned the ability of Congress to force private citizens to purchase a product under the Commerce Clause, a notion he found absurd. The new ruling covers the stiff fines for non-compliance, which ObamaCare hucksters swore to high heaven would not be a “tax,” but rather a “penalty.” Vinson also ruled that because the individual mandate could not be separated from the rest of the ObamaCare act, the entire bill must be struck down.
The Pensacola ruling is, in other words, a death blow to ObamaCare… if it stands in the Supreme Court. Supreme Court watchers will now commence reading the tea leaves of past decisions to figure out where each justice stands. There will be pressure for the most recently appointed Justice, Elena Kagan, to recuse herself, because she served as Solicitor General in the Obama Administration. A nervous nation will wait to see if Justice Anthony Kennedy emerges from his chambers and sees his shadow.
This is a rare moment when the interests of middle America and the Democrat Party align. ObamaCare is killing the Democrats, and might prove fatal to the Party in the 2012 elections. The best thing for both their political prospects, and American prosperity, would be if this albatross died a clean and humane death in the courts.