Congressman Rick Berg released the following statement today in response to a Florida federal judge ruling that the individual mandate found in President Obama's health care law is unconstitutional. North Dakota was one of twenty-six states participating in the lawsuit.
"Today's ruling reaffirms what Americans have said since this law was forced upon them--health care decision making belongs in the hands of patients and their doctors, not Washington bureaucrats. Americans have sent a loud message that they want health care reform that offers choices, not mandates, and Congress must continue to work to repeal this law and replace it with health care reform that offers the affordable access and choices that Americans need."
Judge Roger Vinson of the Florida Northern District Court held that the individual mandate found in the law is not a constitutional exercise of Congress' Commerce Clause power. Judge Vinson also struck down the entire law citing the lack of a severability clause, meaning that if one part of the law is found to be unconstitutional, the entire law is deemed unconstitutional.
The case was brought by twenty-six states, the National Federation of Independent Business, and two individuals and is the second federal court ruling to strike down the individual mandate, as Virginia federal district court Judge Hudson ruled in December 2010 that the individual mandate violates the U.S. Constitution. The states participating in the Florida lawsuit are: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. On January 21, 2011, Oklahoma became the 28th State to challenge the constitutionality of the individual mandate, filing a lawsuit against the Administration in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Oklahoma.