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A Few Notes on Today’s Obamacare Ruling

In Virginia today, Judge Henry Hudson released his ruling around noon in the case of Commonwealth of Virginia vs. Sebelius, a case against President Obama’s health care law, finding the individual mandate within that law unconstitutional.

As you’ve doubtless heard by now, Hudson found in favor of the Commonwealth, writing that the provision of the law which mandates minimum essential coverage “exceeds the constitutional boundaries of congressional power.”

“Salutary goals and creative drafting have never been sufficient to offset an absence of enumerated powers,” Hudson wrote.

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, who has led the case and deserves the lion’s share of credit on this, released a statement hailing the victory as a significant step.

“I am gratified we prevailed. This won’t be the final round, as this will ultimately be decided by the Supreme Court, but today is a critical milestone in the protection of the Constitution,” said Cuccinelli.

While criticizing the drafting process of the legislation, Hudson also presumed severability in this case. For more on this question, read my Guide to Severability and Obamacare.

Hudson did deny the Commonwealth’s request for injunctive relief, since the individual mandate to purchase insurance doesn’t go into effect until 2014. But he also denied nearly all of the federal government’s other arguments in favor of the mandate, including taxation authority.

The case advanced rapidly following Virginia’s passage of a health freedom act through the General Assembly, which blocked any legal requirement for individuals to purchase health insurance, and set up a state-backed challenge to the individual mandate.

Hudson previously rejected the federal government’s motion to dismiss, and his decision today will be the first of several to come in several continuing lawsuits against President Obama’s law.

Take a few moments to listen to our latest podcast with Maureen Martin, legal expert for the Heartland Institute, in which she breaks down the possible outcomes and the future paths for these lawsuits through the court system.

Benjamin Domenech (bdomenech@heartland.org) is managing editor of Health Care News.