Here are excerpts from Judge Vinson’s 78-page opinion, in which he ruled (1) that Obamacare’s individual mandate is unconstitutional and (2) that since the individual mandate is “the keystone or lynchpin” of the entire act, upon its removal the entire 2,700-page act must be invalidated.
[T]his case is not about whether the Act is wise or unwise legislation, or whether it will solve or exacerbate the myriad problems in our health care system. In fact, it is not really about our health care system at all. It is principally about our federalist system, and it raises very important issues regarding the Constitutional role of the federal government…. [A]ll of the plaintiffs challenge the “individual mandate” set forth in Section 1501 of the Act, which, beginning in 2014 will require that everyone (with certain limited exceptions) purchase federally-approved health insurance, or pay a monetary penalty….I previously rejected the defendants’ argument that this penalty was really a tax, and that any challenge thereto was barred by the Anti-Injunction Act…. The Constitutionality of the individual mandate is the crux of this entire case…. [A]s Congress’ attorneys in the Congressional Research Service (“CRS”) and Congressional Budget Office (“CBO”) advised long before the Act was passed into law, the notion of Congress having the power under the Commerce Clause to directly impose an individual mandate to purchase health care insurance is “novel” and “unprecedented….” Never before has Congress required that everyone buy a product from a private company…just for being alive and residing in the United States…. It would be a radical departure from existing case law to hold that Congress can regulate inactivity under the Commerce Clause. If it has the power to compel an otherwise passive individual into a commercial transaction with a third party merely by asserting -- as was done in the Act -- that compelling the actual transaction is itself “commercial and economic in nature, and substantially affects interstate commerce” [see Act § 1501(a)(1)], it is not hyperbolizing to suggest that Congress could do almost anything it wanted. It is difficult to imagine that a nation which began, at least in part, as the result of opposition to a British mandate giving the East India Company a monopoly and imposing a nominal tax on all tea sold in America would have set out to create a government with the power to force people to buy tea in the first place…. I conclude that the individual mandate seeks to regulate economic inactivity, which is the very opposite of economic activity. And because activity is required under the Commerce Clause, the individual mandate exceeds Congress’ commerce power, as it is understood, defined, and applied in the existing Supreme Court case law…. The Necessary and Proper Clause provides that Congress shall have the power: To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof….The Supreme Court has repeatedly held, and the emphasized text makes clear, that the Clause is not an independent source of federal power; rather, it is simply “a caveat that the Congress possesses all the means necessary to carry out the specifically granted ‘foregoing’ powers of [section] 8 ‘and all other Powers vested by this Constitution.’ [It] is ‘but merely a declaration, for the removal of all uncertainty, that the means of carrying into execution those (powers) otherwise granted are included in the grant….’” Hamilton wrote the following in response to the concern voiced by some that the Necessary and Proper Clause -- and the Supremacy Clause as well -- could be used to expand federal power and destroy liberties: “These two clauses have been the source of much virulent invective and petulant declamation against the proposed Constitution. They have been held up to the people in all the exaggerated colors of misrepresentation as the pernicious engines by which their local governments were to be destroyed and their liberties exterminated; as the hideous monster whose devouring jaws would spare neither sex nor age, nor high nor low, nor sacred nor profane; and yet, strange as it may appear, after all this clamor, to those who may not have happened to contemplate them in the same light, it may be affirmed with perfect confidence, that the constitutional operation of the intended government would be precisely the same, if these clauses were entirely obliterated, as if they were repeated in every article. They are only declaratory of a truth, which would have resulted by necessary and unavoidable implication from the very act of constituting a federal government, and vesting it with certain specific powers.” The Federalist No. 33, at 204-05….Madison concurred with this view. See The Federalist No. 44, at 302 (explaining that the Clause is entirely redundant for if it had been omitted, “there can be no doubt” that the same power and authority “would have resulted to the government, by unavoidable implication”)…. The Necessary and Proper Clause cannot be utilized to “pass laws for the accomplishment of objects” that are not within Congress’ enumerated powers…. Having determined that the individual mandate exceeds Congress’ power under the Commerce Clause, and cannot be saved by application of the Necessary and Proper Clause, the next question is whether it is severable from the remainder of the Act. In considering this issue, I note that the defendants have acknowledged that the individual mandate and the Act’s health insurance reforms, including the guaranteed issue and community rating, will rise or fall together as these reforms “cannot be severed from the [individual mandate]….” As explained in my order on the motion to dismiss: “the defendants concede that [the individual mandate] is absolutely necessary for the Act’s insurance market reforms to work as intended. In fact, they refer to it as an ‘essential’ part of the Act at least fourteen times in their motion to dismiss.” Thus, the only question is whether the Act’s other, non-health-insurance-related provisions can stand independently or whether they, too, must fall with the individual mandate…. [T]he record seems to strongly indicate that Congress would not have passed the Act in its present form if it had not included the individual mandate. This is because the individual mandate was indisputably essential to what Congress was ultimately seeking to accomplish. It was, in fact, the keystone or lynchpin of the entire health reform effort….[T]here are two specific facts that are particularly telling in this respect. First, the Act does not contain a “severability clause,” which is commonly included in legislation to provide that if any part or provision is held invalid, then the rest of the statute will not be affected.... The lack of a severability clause in this case is significant because one had been included in an earlier version of the Act, but it was removed in the bill that subsequently became law. “Where Congress includes [particular] language in an earlier version of a bill but deletes it prior to enactment, it may be presumed that the [omitted provision] was not intended….” Moreover, the defendants have conceded that the Act’s health insurance reforms cannot survive without the individual mandate, which is extremely significant because the various insurance provisions, in turn, are the very heart of the Act itself. The health insurance reform provisions were cited repeatedly during the health care debate, and they were instrumental in passing the Act. In speech after speech President Obama emphasized that the legislative goal was “health insurance reform” and stressed how important it was that Congress fundamentally reform how health insurance companies do business, and “protect every American from the worst practices of the insurance industry.” See, for example, Remarks of President Obama, The State of the Union, delivered Jan. 27, 2009. Meanwhile, the Act’s supporters in the Senate and House similarly spoke repeatedly and often of the legislative efforts as being the means to comprehensively reform the health insurance industry…. In other words, the individual mandate is indisputably necessary to the Act’s insurance market reforms, which are, in turn, indisputably necessary to the purpose of the Act…. [C]leanly and clearly severing an unconstitutional provision is one thing, but having to re-balance a statutory scheme by engaging in quasi-legislative “line drawing” is a “‘far more serious invasion of the legislative domain’” than courts should undertake…. Severing the individual mandate from the Act along with the other insurance reform provisions -- and in the process reconfiguring an exceedingly lengthy and comprehensive legislative scheme -- cannot be done consistent with the principles set out above. Going through the 2,700-page Act line-by-line, invalidating dozens (or hundreds) of…sections while retaining dozens (or hundreds) of others, would not only take considerable time and extensive briefing, but it would, in the end, be tantamount to rewriting a statute in an attempt to salvage it, which is foreclosed by Ayotte, supra. Courts should not even attempt to do that…. In the final analysis, this Act has been analogized to a finely crafted watch, and that seems to fit. It has approximately 450 separate pieces, but one essential piece (the individual mandate) is defective and must be removed. It cannot function as originally designed. There are simply too many moving parts in the Act and too many provisions dependent (directly and indirectly) on the individual mandate and other health insurance provisions --- which, as noted, were the chief engines that drove the entire legislative effort --- for me to try and dissect out the proper from the improper, and the able-to-stand-alone from the unable-to-stand-alone. Such a quasi-legislative undertaking would be particularly inappropriate in light of the fact that any statute that might conceivably be left over after this analysis is complete would plainly not serve Congress’ main purpose and primary objective in passing the Act…. I must conclude that the individual mandate and the remaining provisions are all inextricably bound together in purpose and must stand or fall as a single unit. The individual mandate cannot be severed…. Because the individual mandate is unconstitutional and not severable, the entire Act must be declared void…. In closing, I will simply observe, once again, that my conclusion in this case is based on an application of the Commerce Clause law as it exists pursuant to the Supreme Court’s current interpretation and definition. Only the Supreme Court (or a Constitutional amendment) can expand that.