A Virginia federal judge on Monday found a key part of President Barack Obama's sweeping health care reform law unconstitutional. The ruling of U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson sets the stage for a protracted legal struggle likely to wind up in the Supreme Court. The Judge struck down the "individual mandate" requiring most Americans to purchase health insurance by 2014. Hudson's opinion contradicts other court rulings finding the mandate constitutionally permissible.
In his decision, Hudson wrote, that an individual's personal decision to purchase or decline purchase of health insurance from a private provider is beyond the historical reach of the U.S. Constitution. According to the Judge, no specifically constitutional authority exists to mandate the purchase of health insurance. Incoming House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., urged President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder to request an expedited appeal to the Supreme Court.
Virginia officials had argued that the Constitution's Commerce Clause does not give the government the authority to force Americans to purchase a commercial product - like health insurance - that they may not want or need. Virginia is one of the few states in the country with a specific law saying residents cannot be forced to buy insurance.