PENSACOLA, Florida, March 3, 2011 ( – A federal judge in Florida that struck down the new health care law as unconstitutional has ordered President Barack Obama’s administration to seek an expedited appellate review of the ruling. In the interim states will still have to comply with the national health care reform, the judge has said.

Pro-life advocates oppose the law, saying it creates new streams of funding that would subsidize abortions with taxpayer dollars.

U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson in Pensacola said Thursday the federal government had to seek expedited appellate review of his ruling within a week. Vinson had ruled the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) unconstitutional in a January 31 ruling, because it included a provision (known as the “individual mandate”) that requires all Americans to purchase health coverage by 2014 or pay a fine to the Internal Revenue Service. Under U.S. tax law, failure to pay such penalties could result in hefty fines or even jail time.

Twenty-six states led by Florida had filed suit against the federal government in Vinson’s court, charging that the individual mandate violates the interstate commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution. They also said that it infringes upon the Tenth Amendment, which guarantees the sovereignty of the states by making explicit that the powers not granted the federal government by the U.S. Constitution reside with the states or the people.

In his ruling Vinson voided the entire law, because Congress failed to attach a “severability clause” that would have left the rest of the legislation intact if any part was declared unconstitutional by the courts. Since the individual mandate is considered essential to the whole financial scheme of PPACA, Vinson followed U.S. Supreme Court instructions to federal judges to strike down an entire law if the unconstitutional part is unable to be separated from the overall legislation.

Both Vinson, and a federal judge in Virginia have ruled against PPACA’s individual mandate. Three other federal judges have ruled in favor of the Obama administration on PPACA’s constitutionality.

The case is expected eventually to reach the U.S. Supreme Court.


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